The Dependency Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit consists of seven Circuit Court Judges and two General Magistrates. This division of the Court presides over abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment cases and its mission is to ensure the permanency, safety and well-being of children. The main hearings in a dependency case (shelter hearings, arraignment, trial, disposition, judicial review, and permanency hearing) are required to meet state and federal statutory guidelines. Child Protective Investigators (CPI) from the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) investigate reported cases of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. After an investigation, either a petition is filed with the court under Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes or the family is offered volunteer services and the case is not submitted for court supervision. In either circumstance, the child and their family will work with BSO and/or ChildNet, which is the community provider for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Broward County. If the minor is removed from the home, a shelter hearing must be heard within 24 hours of removal. At the time of the shelter hearing, an attorney(s) will be appointed if the parent(s) qualifies for appointed counsel based on his/her income. At the time of the shelter hearing, the judge will determine the child’s placement, visitation with the family, and any other needs for the family that need to immediately be addressed such as, education, mental health, and medical needs for the child. Thereafter, the court will have follow-up hearings to monitor the safety and well-being of the child, ensure all parties’ due process rights are preserved, and help the child work towards achieving permanency.
The Dependency Division is also a Unified Family Court Division. Should a family involved in the Dependency Court also have a case in the Domestic Relations Division. Domestic Violence Division and/or Delinquency Division, of the 17th Judicial Circuit, those cases may be transferred to the judge who is handling the Dependency Case.
Judges serving in the Dependency Division are:
General Magistrates serving in the Dependency Division are: