Legal guardianship lawyer in Florida warns of ‘crisis’
Lawyers in Florida are being warned of a “crisis” of legal guardianship as they seek to secure legal guardianships for thousands of families that have lost their homes to foreclosure.
In the wake of the collapse of the banks, which brought on an unprecedented wave of foreclosures, more than half of Florida’s nearly 8,000 guardianships have been denied, according to a new report by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).
The CRL, which is the largest consumer rights group in the state, also found that the number of legal guardian homes is set to double to about 1.4 million by 2025.
But legal guardians are not the only family members facing a crisis of legal custody and visitation rights.
The number of family members in the US facing such a predicament is expected to double again to 3.5 million by 2020, according a report by a group of state attorneys general.
“A growing number of families are experiencing legal guardians’ court challenges, with cases being filed against family members and attorneys in federal court, as well as in state court,” said the report, which was prepared by lawyers for the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal services to low-income and minority families.
“While many of these challenges are pending in court, they are facing hurdles that go beyond the courts, and include delays and costs associated with securing the guardianship.
This is putting undue stress on families, who have no legal means to defend themselves,” said one of the report’s authors, J.K. Chaudhry, a partner in the New York City law firm of Chaudhan Law Group.
The growing number and severity of legal court challenges “has created a crisis in Florida, where guardianship and visitation have become a critical issue,” Chaudhart said.
“As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of parents who have lost custody or visitation because they are unable to afford legal counsel.
We believe there is a need for a legal guardian law that will ensure access to legal representation and ensure that families are not held responsible for the decisions they make in these challenging times.”
The new report, entitled The Crisis of Legal Guardianship in Florida: Growing Costs, Injuries, and Injuries to Families, estimates that as many as 400,000 children could be facing legal guardians in Florida by 2020.
The CRL is calling for a bill to grant legal guardians the same rights as a father, so that fathers can see their children as a family and not as a private individual.
The report also notes that there are more than 4,000 lawsuits pending in state courts.
In a sign of the growing legal crisis, there are now about 600 cases in Florida in which parents allege their children have been harmed by their guardianship lawyers.
The children in these cases have been unable to seek help because they were denied a court-appointed guardian, said the authors of the CRL report, who include Florida attorney Robert Bly.
The authors estimate that between 2 and 4,400 children are living in a legal guardians program in Florida.
The growing legal guardians issue has also been a significant factor in a series of lawsuits filed against Florida families by the Legal Aid Society of Florida, which has sued the state for failure to protect children from guardianship abuse.
The group is suing the state and the state Attorney General’s Office for failing to properly oversee the legal guardians system and for not adequately protecting children from abuse.
In one case, filed in October, the attorneys general for the state of Florida accused the state’s attorney general of failing to provide adequate oversight of the legal guardian system.
The Legal Aid society is suing for negligence and violation of the right to be free from undue restraint, among other allegations, because of its failure to provide a child with the protection of a legal child support agency.
In a statement, the attorney general’s office said the attorney-general’s office is taking “every legal and administrative action possible to protect the welfare and well-being of Florida children.”
The Legal Assistance Society also has filed a lawsuit against the state attorney general alleging that his office did not take adequate steps to ensure that children were not being harmed.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office told The Associated Press that she is investigating the allegations, but declined further comment.
Legal advocates say the growing number or severity of cases has created a growing and complex legal crisis.
Lawyers for the legal aid group said in a statement that the state has not done enough to ensure the safety of children and their families.
“It is not just a legal crisis that is affecting Florida families, but also the children who have been injured and the parents who are not able to afford a legal defense,” the statement said.