Friday, April 7, 2006
Case Law Development: Florida Court of Appeals Explains Standards for Waiving Parental Notification Requirement
The Florida Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's order dismissing her petition for judicial waiver of parental notification of pregnancy by unpublished order and has now provided an an opinion to explain the decision. Florida's parental notification statute provides three exceptions justifying judicial waiver of the requirement: child abuse, maturity of the child, and best interests of the child.
The court explained that the trial court had applied an incorrect definition of "sufficiently mature." Citing decisions from a number of other states on the standard, the court stated, "The circuit court improperly held Doe to the standard of a fully-grown adult, quoting Webster's definition of a mature person as one "fully developed in body and mind." The statute does not require Doe to prove that she has the maturity of an adult....In determining whether a minor is "sufficiently mature," the court need only find that the minor has the necessary emotional development, intellect and understanding to make an informed decision regarding terminating her pregnancy. ... Factors which evidence sufficient maturity include, but are not limited to, the minor's physical age, her understanding of the medical risks associated with the procedure as well as emotional consequences, her consideration of options other than abortion, her future educational and life plans, her involvement in civic activities, any employment, her demeanor and her seeking advice or emotional support from an adult....The statutory term "sufficiently mature" does not require Doe to be self-sufficient."
In re Jane Doe, 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 4860 (April 5, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited April 7, 2006 bgf)