DCF Reports Not Admissible as Hearsay

Even if the author of a DCF (Department of Children & Families) report is available to testify, the hearsay within the report which is testified to must have a hearsay exception of its own, otherwise the report will be inadmissible.  Davis v. Davis, Fla. 5th DCA Case No. 5D11-1534, January 2013, citing Reichenberg v. Davis, 846 So. 2d 1233 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003). 

However, in Davis, despite the Court's decison that the lower court erred in admitting such a report, the Court found that the lower court's error did not require reversal of the ultimate custody ruling, because the error did not "injuriously affect the substantial rights of the complaining party," meaning an "error is harmless where there is no reasonable possibility [the] error contributed to the verdict."  Davis, citing Forester v. Norman Roger Jewll & Brooks Int'l, Inc., 610 So. 2d 1369, 1372 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) and CA v. Dep't of Children & Families, 958 So. 2d 554, 557 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

*This information is courtesy of Michael Mattson, Esquire, Mediator, Jacksonville, Florida