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 (2017) 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 PDFPDF Download version of the complete benchbook as a single document. Updated 7-16-2018. 

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

2. Dependency Cases in the Context of Family Court

3. Family-Centered Practice

4. 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.

5. Service and Treatment Considerations

For Children:

For Parents:

6. Child Safety Considerations

7. Five Federal Laws and the National Compact

8. General Legal Issues

9. Dependency Hearing Benchcards

10. Colloquies

11. Front Pocket Materials

Acronyms PDFPDF Download Word

Reunification plan PDFPDF Download 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 PDFPDF Download