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Chief Justice issues new statewide COVID-19 emergency order on court-ordered family visitation with children under state DCF care

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Supreme Court sealFlorida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new administrative order on March 27 imposing health-related limitations on court-ordered child and family visitation through April 17 for children under the protective supervision of the Department of Children and Families.

Under the new order, child and family visitation under circuit court orders entered under chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes will be conducted by video or other electronic means unless all parties agree that in-person visitation does not pose a health threat.

If video visitation is not possible, telephone visitation will be used. The order applies to parent-child visitation, sibling visitation, and visitation between children and other family members and non-relatives.

Any party who wants to reinstate in-person visitation can ask the trial court in charge of each case. The trial judge then can allow in-person visitation if it will not jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of the child and all others who will be present.

On March 26, Canady also issued another administrative order assigning a list of judges to statewide duty for the purpose of resolving cases in which criminal defendants are being held in custody outside of the jurisdiction where they are accused of crimes.

The chief justice will review this and other COVID-19 orders as the emergency develops and will extend them beyond April 17 if needed. Other emergency orders and advisories are being linked on the Florida Supreme Court’s website: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency

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