Dependency Benchbook

This benchbook is a compilation of promising and science-informed practices as well as a legal resource guide. It is a comprehensive tool for judges, providing information regarding legal and non-legal considerations in dependency cases.

Dependency Court Improvement Program grants from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, support this project. 

The citations in this benchbook have been abbreviated to improve the flow of the text. A citation for § 39.01(1), Florida Statutes (2016) will appear as § 39.01(1), and a citation to Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure 8.350 will appear as Rule 8.350.


Dependency Benchbook Unabridged

Click either the Word or PDF version of the complete benchbook as a single document. Updated 2017/09/15. 

Dependency Benchbook by Section

Sections of the benchbook are as follows:

  1. Overview: What is the Benchbook? Why Use the Benchbook? How to Use the Benchbook
  1. Dependency Cases in the Context of Family Court
  • Family Court Tool Kit: The Basics
    This tool kit provides an overview Florida’s family court. It includes: a timeline of significant family court events; a listing of case types that comprise Florida’s family court; guiding principles; descriptions of the ten core components; information about the one family/ one judge model and noted benefits of the model; filings trends; process maps for dependency, delinquency, dissolution of marriage, and domestic violence injunction cases; and links to additional resources.
  • Legal Issues Tool Kit
    This tool kit contains the more frequent, difficult, and interesting legal questions that may arise when coordinating multiple cases involving one family. It will help users meet the challenges of handling related cases by offering quick reference to statutes, rules, and precedents. Handling related cases in a coordinated manner can decrease delays in case processing, minimize the issuance of conflicting orders, decrease the number of post-judgment actions, minimize duplication in hearings, and improve judicial decision-making.
  • Dependency Cases in the Context of Floridas Family Court
  • Delinquency and Dependency Issues
  • Delinquency Benchbook
  • Domestic Violence and the Effects on Children
  • Paternity in Dependency Cases
  • Child Support in Dependency Cases
  • For further information about specific child support issues, please see the Child Support Benchbook
  1. Family-Centered Practice
  1. Trauma and Child Development
  • The Family Court Tool Kit: Trauma and Child Development
    contains compelling information, rooted in science, which aids in determining children's needs based on developmental milestones and the impact of trauma. The information and practices in this tool kit will improve judicial decision making and improve outcomes for children. The practices are in keeping with guiding principles from In re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518 (Fla. 2001). Federal regulations, state statutes, Florida Supreme Court opinions, and a judicial canon support these practices and authorize trauma screening and treatment.
  1. Service and Treatment Considerations

For Children:

For Parents:

  1. Child Safety Considerations
  1. Five Federal Laws and the National Compact
  1. General Legal Issues
  1. Dependency Hearing Benchcards
  1. Colloquies
  1. Front Pocket Materials

Acronyms PDF Word

Reunification plan PDF Word

Rules of Judicial Administration 2.560 PDF Word

United Spinal Association Disability Etiquette booklet PDF

Judicial Guide to Implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 PDF