In Florida, you can apply for temporary custody of a minor thanks to Chapter 751 of the Florida Statutes. This petition for temporary custody can be filed if you are an extended family member caring for a child full time in the role of a substitute parent. The child must be living with you at present. You can also apply if you receive a notarized consent form from the child's parents.
This is an important form for those unable to adopt a child who is within his or her family but who are willing to take on custody. The form does not require the parents' permission if you can show that there is clear evidence that the child's parents are unfit to continue to maintain custody of the child.
Once you file the form, you need to notify the parents of the petition. Use a personal service to serve the appropriate documents if you know where they live. If not, you can use a constructive service and complete the forms of searches required by law. After a personal service, the parents have 20 days to respond. If they do not respond, you can file a motion for default. Then, file a notice for trial and finally set a final hearing.
This can get complicated depending on whether or not the parents respond to your petition. If they do and argue against your request, it could make it harder to take over the custody of your loved one. Fortunately, your attorney can help you argue on behalf of the child you care for, so you can do what's in his or her best interests. Our site has more on adoption and the 751 action.