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The Florida Senate

2004 Florida Statutes

Section 63.097, Florida Statutes 2004

63.097  Fees.--

(1)  When the adoption entity is an agency, fees may be assessed if they are approved by the department within the process of licensing the agency and if they are for:

(a)  Foster care expenses;

(b)  Preplacement and postplacement social services; and

(c)  Agency facility and administrative costs.

(2)  The following fees, costs, and expenses may be assessed by the adoption entity or paid by the adoption entity on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents:

(a)  Reasonable living expenses of the birth mother which the birth mother is unable to pay due to unemployment, underemployment, or disability. Reasonable living expenses are rent, utilities, basic telephone service, food, toiletries, necessary clothing, transportation, insurance, and expenses found by the court to be necessary for the health and well-being of the birth mother and the unborn child. Such expenses may be paid during the pregnancy and for a period of up to 6 weeks postpartum.

(b)  Reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Such expenses may be paid during the pregnancy and for a period of up to 6 weeks postpartum.

(c)  Expenses necessary to comply with the requirements of this chapter, including, but not limited to, service of process under s. 63.088, investigator fees, a diligent search under s. 63.088, a preliminary home study under s. 63.092, and a final home investigation under s. 63.125

(d)  Court filing expenses, court costs, and other litigation expenses and birth certificate and medical record expenses.

(e)  Costs associated with advertising under s. 63.212(1)(g).

(f)  The following professional fees:

1.  A reasonable hourly fee or flat fee necessary to provide legal representation to the adoptive parents or adoption entity in a proceeding filed under this chapter.

2.  A reasonable hourly fee or flat fee for contact with the parent related to the adoption. In determining a reasonable hourly fee under this subparagraph, the court must consider if the tasks done were clerical or of such a nature that the matter could have been handled by support staff at a lesser rate than the rate for legal representation charged under subparagraph 1. Such tasks include, but need not be limited to, transportation, transmitting funds, arranging appointments, and securing accommodations.

3.  A reasonable hourly fee for counseling services provided to a parent or a prospective adoptive parent by a psychologist licensed under chapter 490 or a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor licensed under chapter 491, or a counselor who is employed by an adoption entity accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Children and Families to provide pregnancy counseling and supportive services.

(3)  Approval of the court is not required until the total of amounts permitted under subsection (2) exceeds:

(a)  $5,000 in legal or other fees;

(b)  $800 in court costs; or

(c)  $5,000 in reasonable and necessary living and medical expenses.

(4)  Any fees, costs, or expenses not included in subsection (2) or prohibited under subsection (5) require court approval prior to payment and must be based on a finding of extraordinary circumstances.

(5)  The following fees, costs, and expenses are prohibited:

(a)  Any fee or expense that constitutes payment for locating a minor for adoption.

(b)  Any payment which is not itemized and documented on the affidavit filed under s. 63.132

(c)  Any fee on the affidavit which does not specify the service that was provided and for which the fee is being charged, such as a fee for facilitation, acquisition, or other similar service, or which does not identify the date the service was provided, the time required to provide the service, the person or entity providing the service, and the hourly fee charged.

(6)  Unless otherwise indicated in this section, when an adoption entity uses the services of a licensed child-placing agency, a professional, any other person or agency pursuant to s. 63.092, or, if necessary, the department, the person seeking to adopt the child must pay the licensed child-placing agency, professional, other person or agency, or the department an amount equal to the cost of all services performed, including, but not limited to, the cost of conducting the preliminary home study, counseling, and the final home investigation.

History.--s. 6, ch. 75-226; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 6, ch. 78-190; s. 2, ch. 84-101; s. 4, ch. 87-397; s. 1, ch. 90-55; s. 10, ch. 92-96; s. 20, ch. 2001-3; s. 21, ch. 2003-58.