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Welcome to the Lee County Juvenile Dependency Program

TABLE OF CONTENTS


INSTRUCTIONS for Parents and Caregivers To Reopen a Juvenile Dependency Case

The following instructions have been prepared as a guide in assisting you to reopen your dependency case. It is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for nor construed as legal advice.

1. PREPARE A WRITTEN MOTION

In order to reopen your case, a Notice of Hearing and Motion To Reopen and For Modification of Permanency Order must be prepared and filed. These documents can be found on the 20th Judicial Circuit's website at: www.ca.cjis20.org. Click PROGRAMS buton. Click JUVENILE button. Click on "Link to Lee County Juvenile Dependency Instructions"

You must attach, to the Motion, all of the supporting documentation showing you completed your unfinished Case Plan tasks. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Parenting class completion certificate
  • Substance abuse treatment completion certificate
  • Anger management completion certificate (ACT/BAN)
  • Victim's counseling (ACT)
  • Proof of income (pay stubs, W-2's, letter from employer)
  • Proof of housing (lease)
  • Proof of attendance at 12-step recovery meetings (AA or NA)

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2. FILE YOUR MOTION AND PAY FILING FEE

File the Motion with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Juvenile Division, to re-open your case, along with all of the supporting documentation showing you completed your unfinished Case Plan tasks as listed above in #1.

      The Juvenile Dependency Clerk is located at:

Lee County Justice Center
Second Floor
1700 Monroe Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901

The filing fee is $50.00. If you are unable to pay the fee, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Ask the Clerk for an Application for Determination of Indigent Status form and fill it out. If the Clerk finds you eligible, the fee is waived. If not, you must pay the fee to get the Motion before the court.

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3. OBTAIN A HEARING DATE

After you have filed your Motion contact Dorina, Judicial Assistant to Judge Geoffrey H. Gentile, at (239) 533-2600 and she will give you a hearing date.

Your Hearing date is:

____________________________________time:_______________
In front of the Honorable Geoffrey H. Gentile, Circuit Judge, Lee County Justice Center, 3rd Floor, Courtroom 3A, 1700 Monroe Street, Fort Myers Florida 33901.

You must write this hearing date and time into the Notice of Hearing form and file the form with the Clerk of Courts.

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4. SEND OUT NOTICE OF HEARING AND MOTION

Within 24 hours of filing the Notice of Hearing, send a copy of the Notice of Hearing and the Motion, along with all the supporting documentation showing you completed your Case Plan tasks as listed in #1 to:

Children's Legal Services
Department of Children and Families
2295 Victoria Avenue
Post Office Box 60085
Fort Myers, Florida 33901

Their phone number is (239) 895-0217

You must also send a copy to the other parent, the Permanent Guardians or other caregivers who have custody of your child or children, if known; and the Guardian Ad Litem Program, 1700 Monroe Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901.

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5. CONTACT LUTHERAN SERVICES OF FLORIDA

Within 48 hours of filing your Motion, contact Lutheran Services of Florida, Case Management Program Director (Joyce Mieses) at (239) 461-7640, and let the Program Director know you filed a Motion to Re-open your case.

  • A. The Case Management Program Director will assign your case to a Child Welfare Case Manager, who will contact you to set up an appointment. At that meeting, the Case Manager will go over your case plan tasks with you and review your supporting documentation. The Case Manager may ask you to sign all necessary releases, including those that will allow the case manager to verify completion of the required services. The Case Manager will also contact service providers if needed. The case manager may also contact the child(ren)'s current caregivers regarding your Motion and obtain their input.
  • B. The Case Manager will consult with his/her Supervisor and make a recommendation on Reopening your case, and will notify you of the result. The recommendation will be presented at your Court Hearing.
    • i. If the Case Manager recommends increased, unsupervised or overnight visitation and/or reunification as appropriate, then the Case Manager will agree with your Motion to Reopen the case and may request the Court's permission to reunify you with your child(ren) on that date or shortly thereafter. A future Judicial Review hearing date will be set as well at that hearing.
    • ii. If the Case Manager recommends not to reopen your case, you will be given an explanation as to why and what you need to do in order to satisfy your case plan. The Case Manager will present this recommendation to the Court, and you will have the opportunity to present your position to the judge, at the Hearing. The judge will then decide whether to grant or deny your Motion.

Please note that every case is different and there are other possible outcomes than those noted above. Failure to adhere to the instructions may result in a delay in your hearing.

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