In the Interest of K.W. and K.W., children.
J.W. and M.W., Appellees/Cross-Appellants, GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM, Appellant/Cross-Appellee, and DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Manatee County; Lee E. Haworth,
Matthew C. Wilson; and Sara E. Goldfarb, Sanford (substituted
as counsel of record), for Appellant/Cross-Appellee Guardian
ad Litem Program.
Michael Kelly of C. Michael Kelly, P.A., Bradenton, for
Stephanie C. Zimmerman, Bradenton, for Appellee Department of
Children and Families.
Guardian ad Litem Program appeals and J.W. and M.W., the
Father and Mother, cross appeal the "Final Judgment on
Guardian ad Litem Program's Second Amended Petition for
Termination of Parental Rights." The final judgment
terminated the Mother's parental rights to K.W. (1) and
K.W. (2); it terminated the Father's parental rights to
K.W. (1) but not to K.W. (2); and it concluded that no
grounds were proven to sustain a finding of dependency of
K.W. (2). To the extent that the trial court terminated the
Mother's parental rights to K.W. (1) and K.W. (2) and the
Father's parental rights to K.W. (1) but not to K.W. (2),
we affirm the final judgment without further comment. We
reverse the portion of the final judgment in which the trial
court declined to adjudicate K.W. (2) dependent.
trial court finds the requirements for termination of
parental rights were not proven, the court must then
determine, as part of its dispositional powers under section
39.811(1), Florida Statutes (2016), whether the evidence
supports the child being adjudicated dependent. If grounds
for dependency have been established, the trial court shall
adjudicate or readjudicate the child dependent. §
39.811(1)(a); see also Fla. R. Juv. P. 8.525(i)(2)
(2016). In this case, the trial court properly moved on to a
dependency determination, concluding that as to K.W. (2)
"there were no grounds proven to sustain a finding of
although the final judgment is replete with findings of fact
that explain the trial court's reasons for its decision
in all other respects, the trial court's conclusion with
respect to dependency is made without further explanation.
When facts supporting a finding of dependency under any of
the statutory grounds set forth in section 39.01(15) are
sufficiently alleged, the trial court is required to make
specific factual findings as to each ground in order to make
a proper determination with regard to dependency.
B.R.C.M. v. Fla. Dep't of Children &
Families, 215 So.3d 1219, 1223 (Fla.
2017). But see In the Interest of D.H.,
575 So.2d 761, 762 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991) (concluding that while
a trial court is required to make fact findings supporting an
order of dependency, the statutory provision applicable when
a court finds that the child is not dependent directs the
trial court to "enter an order so finding and dismissing
the case" but certifying a question of great public
importance regarding whether findings of fact are required
when denying a dependency petition (quoting section
39.409(1), Florida Statutes (1989))). The record in this case
contains evidence that could support an adjudication of
dependency as to K.W. (2), and nothing in the record or on
the face of the final judgment indicates whether the trial
court rejected this evidence as not credible in determining
that no grounds were proven to sustain a finding of
dependency with respect to K.W. (2). Under these
circumstances, this court cannot conduct a meaningful review
of the trial court's conclusion on dependency.
we reverse the portion of the trial court's order that
determined there were no grounds proven to sustain a finding
of dependency with respect to K.W. (2). See
B.R.C.M., 215 So.3d at 1223; cf. J.S. v. Dep't
of Children & Families, 18 So.3d 1170, 1178-79 (Fla.
1st DCA 2009) (reversing where the trial court's findings
under section 39.810, Florida Statutes (2006), were
insufficient to facilitate meaningful appellate review on the
issue of whether the trial court abused its discretion in
finding that termination of the father's parental rights
was not in the manifest best interests of the child). On
remand, the trial court may reconsider its determination on
dependency based on the evidence presented at the final
adjudicatory hearing and must make the requisite findings
with regard to that determination. However, due to the
passage of time, the trial court may in its discretion allow
the presentation of additional evidence regarding this issue
and K.W. (2)'s current circumstances.
in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
SILBERMAN and ...