A journalist for the Miami Herald observes that Miami-Dade’s family court is loaded with courtroom dramas.
The court processes some 4,500 child custody cases a year, most of them in its juvenile dependency division.
Those aren’t divorce or paternity cases. They’re cases where children are abandoned, abused or neglected, by one or both parents. So the state must intervene.
The children will typically be placed with extended family for a time or in foster care.
Cases can be very complex. As one court bailiff opines, ”[w]hen it’s just two parents who don’t like one another, a lot of times those are the easy ones”. That’s typical of family court.
Juvenile dependency court can be another can of worms entirely. There the mission is to educate parents who may not know on how to parent, and to assist them with the challenges that get in their way. Cases can continue for quite some time.
Twenty percent of the children involved are under the age of one year old. Thirty-three percent are under the age of five years old.