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All proceedings seeking an adjudication that a child is dependent shall be initiated by the filing of a petition by an attorney for the department, or any other person who has knowledge of the facts alleged or is informed of them and believes that they are true.
The purpose of a petition seeking the adjudication of a child as a dependent child is the protection of the child and not the punishment of the person creating the condition of dependency.
When the petition is filed by the department, it shall be signed by an attorney for the department.
The department has determined that voluntary services are not appropriate for the parent or legal custodian and the reasons for such determination.
If the department is the petitioner, it shall provide all safety plans as defined in s. 39.01 involving the parent or legal custodian to the court.
When a child has been placed in shelter status by order of the court, a petition alleging dependency must be filed within 21 days after the shelter hearing, or within 7 days after any party files a demand for the early filing of a dependency petition, whichever comes first. In all other cases, the petition must be filed within a reasonable time after the date the child was referred to protective investigation. The child’s parent or legal custodian must be served with a copy of the petition at least 72 hours before the arraignment hearing.
A petition for termination of parental rights may be filed at any time.
Source: Florida Statutes Chapter 39
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