Judicial Bypass for Minors Seeking Abortion Care

We serve minors in the counties surrounding Tampa Bay who are accessing one of the ten clinics we support. 

If you have any questions about the Judicial Bypass process or need assistance, please reach out to us at our Intake Line: 727.314.3956 or email info@tbafund.com.
Our services are 100% free and confidential.

Sometimes, a person under the age of 18 is unable to rely on their parents for support when trying to access abortion care. Whether their parents are unsupportive of their decision or whether it is unsafe for the minor to inform their parents, the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund can help.

Video from ProgressFlorida: https://youtu.be/4TT8ZaYJAoE

Tampa Bay Abortion Fund can:

Direct you to local attorneys in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco) who have completed successful Judicial Bypass Waivers.

Schedule your clinic appointment and drive you to the clinic, which includes picking you up at a safe location away from home if necessary.

Provide your court appointed attorneys the correct paperwork for filing your petition and receiving your correct waiver.

Pick up and pay for your prescriptions.

Provide aftercare and access to counseling post procedure.

Drive you to the local courts in the Tampa Bay area.

Transport you to future birth control appointments, to get your depo shot, IUD insertion, etc.

Give you free emergency contraception (Plan B) for you to have on-hand in the future.

If you’re looking for assistance with the process, please call our intake line at 727.314.3956 or email us at info@tbafund.com.

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom has information on their website about Judicial Bypass. We’ve included an excerpt below.

Does it cost money to get a judicial bypass?

  • There are no legal fees for applying to get a judicial bypass for abortion in Florida. If you want the court to assign a lawyer to help you, that will be at no cost to you. (TBAF can direct you to local attorneys, who have completed successful Judicial Bypass Waivers.)
  • At some courthouses, you may need to pay for parking.
  • You will have to pay for your clinic appointments related to the procedure. If you are unable to pay for your abortion, there are local and national funding networks that may be able to help you. Some of these resources include Tampa Bay Abortion Fund and National Abortion Federation.

Find the closest courthouse to you: https://floridareprofreedom.org/anyoneknow/

Hillsborough County Judicial Bypass Process and Documents

If you are a minor and in need of abortion care without parental consent, this is the judicial bypass process for Hillsborough County – 13th Circuit:

Initial filing requirements:
  • The minor must file for judicial bypass in person at the Edgecomb Courthouse 800 E Twiggs St, Tampa, FL 33602 (TBAF can accompany you!)
    • When you arrive at the location, you will select a “Juvenile’ ticket at the KIOSK. This will take you to one of the limited number of Juvenile clerks. A Supervisor or Manager may be available to assist you and ensure your visit goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
    • Courthouse Contact Info: (813) 276-8100, Ext. 3802
  • There are two documents that need to be filed. TBAF can fill them out for you but the minor must sign them. (See buttons below to download and print.)
    • The first document is a sworn statement of your true name and pseudonym (fake name)
    • The second is the Petition of Judicial Waiver of Parental Notice of Termination of Pregnancy

(The two files above are from the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court. If the links don’t work, please visit: https://www.hillsclerk.com/About-Us/Forms and scroll to “Juvenile.”)

  • During this initial filing, the minor must wait in the Courthouse until the Judge is assigned and the hearing is scheduled. This can take about 3-4 hours.
    • Due to COVID-19, hours of operation are shortened to 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In regards to COVID-19, the process will depend on the Judge assigned to hear the Judicial Bypass. Some Judges are holding all hearings by video using Zoom and others are holding certain hearings in person. As you can imagine procedures are changing as we continue to make our way through the pandemic. You should be prepared to wear a facemask in the courthouse and if an in-person hearing is required, you may be required to attend the hearing alone.
  • The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund can provide a pro bono (free) attorney who can represent you at the hearing. Or you may file on your own without the TBA Fund and you can request a free attorney from the court–just check the correct box on the petition form.
Do I Need an Attorney?:

Florida law does not require you to have a lawyer to file a petition for a judicial bypass. However, you do have the right to request a court appointed lawyer, at no cost, in order to guide you through the process and accompany you to the hearing. Most people opt for the court-appointed lawyer’s help. 

  • See question on the “Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure Form 8.987 (Revised 04/26/2021)” form that states: “The minor requests the appointment of an attorney to represent her in this matter; and the attorney is appointed at no cost to the minor at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.”

If you decide that you do not want a lawyer, that is okay. You do not need a lawyer to file the petition or to meet with the judge at your hearing. If you follow the steps listed here, you can write your own petition.

About the Hearing:

  • Due to COVID-19, most hearings are conducted on Zoom. Make sure you have a safe place to be on Zoom and that the app is downloaded correctly and works both on your phone and computer. The TBA Fund can assist you with finding a safe place and tech support, if needed.
  • The hearing may be scheduled as soon as the same day as the initial filing or within the next 3 days.
  • The hearing itself takes about 15-30 minutes.
  • The minor will be asked questions by the judge and by the attorney. TBAF encourages the minor to practice your statement in advance with your attorney or TBAF.
  • The Judge may give the determination immediately or the next day.
  • If the waiver is granted, the minor must take all of their paperwork to the clinic-of-choice on the day of their procedure. TBAF can assist with all of these steps.
  • If the waiver is denied, TBAF can work with the minor on next steps and other options.

What kinds of questions will the judge ask me?

In general, the judge will want to know that you understand your options and that you’ve carefully considered your decision. If you have a lawyer, they will help you get ready for the meeting with the judge. Things you will want to be able to talk about with the judge:

  • Have you confirmed your pregnancy with a health care provider?
  • How many weeks have you been pregnant?
  • Why can’t a parent be involved?
  • What do you know about abortion procedures? What are the options for terminating your pregnancy?
  • What do you know about risks and possible complications? What is your plan if you experience complications?
  • Who have you talked to about your decision to have an abortion? Have you talked to any adults?
  • Is anyone pressuring you or forcing you to get an abortion?
  • Have you been abused?
  • How will you pay for the abortion?

From Floridians for Reproductive Freedom: Click here to view another (longer) list of possible questions that you may be asked. Note: No judge asks all these questions. 

Does the other person involved in my pregnancy have a say about whether I choose to have an abortion? No. The pregnant person is the only one who has the ultimate right to decide. There is no requirement that you get the male’s consent or that you notify him. Still, the judge may ask about the male involved in your pregnancy, so have answers prepared. For example, they may ask if that person knows that you are pregnant and how they reacted. The judge could ask if the male knows about your decision to get an abortion and if they are supportive.

What will the judge consider during the hearing?

There are three different reasons a judge will decide to give a judicial bypass. You have to prove at least one of those three reasons. If more than one applies to you then you should explain each reason that applies. The three reasons are:

1. That you are mature enough
  • To prove that you are sufficiently mature to decide to terminate your pregnancy, you will need to show this by “clear and convincing evidence.” This means that it has to be substantially more likely than not that you are mature enough to make this decision on your own.
  • To determine that you are sufficiently mature to make this decision on your own, Florida law requires the judge to consider your:
    • age
    • overall intelligence
    • emotional development and stability
    • believability and how you act
    • ability to accept responsibility
    • ability to consider both immediate and long-term consequences of having an abortion
    • ability to understand and explain the medical risks of terminating your pregnancy, and ability to apply that understanding to your decision.
  • The law requires the judge to decide that there is no “undue influence” by another on your decision to have an abortion. Undue influence refers to another person forcing you to make this decision if this is not the decision that you want to make.
    • For example, if a boyfriend, friend, or another person is trying to convince you to have an abortion when it is not truly what you want to do, the Judge will consider this when deciding whether to grant or deny your request for the judicial waiver.
  • To help prove to the judge that you are mature enough to choose to end your pregnancy without involving a parent, you should provide the judge with information about being in school, community involvement, job experience, and concrete plans for the future, like plans to attend college or pursue a certain career or vocational path. 
  • The Judge may ask if you have spoken to other trusted adults about your decision. Judges typically look favorably at minors who have a support system that has helped them come to this decision, people who they could rely on if there are any medical or mental complications after the abortion, whether it is another family member, an adult friend, or a counselor. 
  • Be prepared to explain how you will pay for the costs of the abortion on your own, without help from your parent. 
  • A judge may also want to see that you have met with a doctor and know about the procedure and the risks of having the procedure.
  • Sometimes judges decide that a minor is not mature enough to decide to have an abortion without involving a parent. This has happened when the minor was unable to demonstrate:
    • any knowledge regarding specific immediate or long-term physical, emotional, or psychological risks of having an abortion,
    • evidence that they had sought advice or emotional support from any adult,
    • what she would do should any physical or emotional complications arise from abortion,
    • knowledge of what the abortion experience is like or potential complications.
  • Florida courts have determined maturity by drawing “inferences” from the minor’s composure, analytic ability, appearance, thoughtfulness, tone of voice, expressions, and her ability to articulate her reasoning and conclusions. Courts may also consider your experience such as prior work experience, experience living away from home, or experience handling personal finances. 
  • Each minor is different, and maturity should be decided based on each individual’s personal circumstances and life history, rather a single standard of maturity.  
 2. That you are a victim of abuse
  • If you are trying to prove that you were abused by a parent or guardian, you will need to prove this to the judge by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means the judge needs to hear that it is more likely than not that you suffered this abuse. It may be hard to tell the judge exactly what the abuse was, but it is important for you to tell the truth and provide the judge with specific details so that he/she can understand why you want to terminate your pregnancy. 
  • Note that if the court finds evidence of child abuse or sexual abuse by any person, the court is obligated under law to report the evidence of child abuse or sexual abuse. 
3. That it is in your best interest
  • If you are trying to prove that involving a parent (or legal guardian) about your pregnancy is not in your best interest, you will have to prove this to the judge using clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence means that you will have to prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is not in your best interest to involve your parent or guardian.
  • Florida courts do not consider fear of involving a parent to be enough of a reason to find that you need a judicial waiver of the notice requirement. Having a general fear that a parent will not understand abortion or be upset about your pregnancy is usually not enough to establish that it is in your best interest not to involve your parent or guardian. 
  • Several Florida courts have based their decision to determine that a judicial waiver is in the minor’s best interest by considering the following factors: 
    • the minor’s emotional or physical needs; 
    • the possibility of intimidation, other emotional injury, or physical danger to the minor; 
    • the stability of the minor’s home and the possibility that notification would cause serious and lasting harm to the family structure; 
    • the relationship between the parents and the minor and the effect of notification on that relationship, and 
    • the possibility that notification may lead the parents to withdraw emotional

What happens after the Judicial Bypass Process?

The judge granted my request… now what?
  • If you do not already have an appointment scheduled, make an appointment. (The clinics that TBAF works with are listed at tbafund.com)
  • Make sure you have a copy of all your court paperwork (you’ll need a copy of both of the final/granted documents) and bring that with you to your clinic appointment. The clinic may also require your ID and/or birth certificate. You can call your chosen clinic to confirm what identification will be required.
  • If you need additional support or funding for your appointment, reach out to TBAF or your local abortion fund. If funding is available, TBAF can also assist with paying for birth control, after your appointment. Let us know if that’s something you’re interested in.
What if the judge denies my request?

Sometimes judges decide that a minor is not mature enough to decide to have an abortion without involving a parent. This has happened when the judge doesn’t feel the minor can articulate what happens during an abortion, that the minor can’t describe possible complications or risks and how to deal with them, or that the minor doesn’t have any adult they can turn to for advice or support. If the judge does not grant your request, Florida law gives you the right to appeal to another judge. The second judge has seven days to decide, but can ask for an extra three days. If you didn’t have a lawyer during your meeting with your first judge, ask for one for the second judge. Talk with your lawyer about how you can be better prepared to address the judge’s concerns.

Can I change my mind after I get the bypass?

Yes. You always have the right to change your mind and stay pregnant. Even once a judge gives you the document saying you can get an abortion without your parents, you do not have to actually have an abortion.

I’ve completed the Judicial Bypass Process, but I need financial assistance or other support for my clinic appointment…

TBAF can help. We provide financial, practical, and logistical support for abortion appointments. Give us a call at 727.314.3956 or email us at info@tbafund.com and we’ll talk about your options.

If you’re a minor looking for assistance with the Judicial Bypass process, please call our intake line at 727.314.3956 or email us at info@tbafund.com.

Other Resources about Judicial Bypass

Resources for those outside of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, or Polk counties & those outside of Florida:
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