Tampa, FL asked in Criminal Law, Family Law, Child Custody and Juvenile Law for Florida

Q: What's the difference between a lock out and a runaway?

My son is 16 years old and lived with me for 4 years before moving back to his mother's in June 2019. His mother cut communication off between us in April.He was arrested in August and is due to be released from JDC next week. He has stated that he was homeless for two months after leaving his mother's and refuses to go back to live with me or her. The Child Protective Investigator assigned to the case told me that the mother refuses to allow him back in her home and that if he doesn't come home with me I have to have an alternative housing plan in place. If there is no alternative housing plan in place she will file a case program (?) as a lock out. I am confused as to if there is any basis to that and why it would be considered any different than if a child leaves them home against the parent's wishes. Edit: I am willing and able to wish to have my son live with me. The question centers more around if he refuses to do so.

1 Lawyer Answer
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Your son is a juvenile and cannot be allowed to roam the streets of Florida alone. If neither parent will step up and take full responsibility for your son, then he becomes what they call "a lockout." Once that happens the State of Florida, Department of Children & Families will take legal custody of your son and try to find a foster home for him; if they cannot find a foster parent they will commit your son to a juvenile protection facility.

From there on out, you and the mother will be on the financial hook and will start owing Florida substantial amounts of money needed to care for your son--because neither of you will.

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