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Author Topic: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren  (Read 15269 times)

amy

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grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« on: Jul 25, 2009, 09:16:33 PM »
Our former step-daughter who did not have custody of her 3 and 4 year old  (our son has sole custody of them) is attempting to get custody now.  Our son is missing (we believe into drugs) and we've been raising these children for about 7 months.  Before that he was.  She has moved to a new state, but since they're hers, she's trying to change the custody.  We are letting the kids visit with her every other weekend, but she wants to get custody because our son is now "out of the picture".  We have temporary custody, but she's asking for longer visits.  Do we have any chance of getting permanent custody?


Waylon

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #1 on: Jul 26, 2009, 07:45:07 AM »
Our former step-daughter who did not have custody of her 3 and 4 year old  (our son has sole custody of them) is attempting to get custody now.  Our son is missing (we believe into drugs) and we've been raising these children for about 7 months.  Before that he was.  She has moved to a new state, but since they're hers, she's trying to change the custody.  We are letting the kids visit with her every other weekend, but she wants to get custody because our son is now "out of the picture".  We have temporary custody, but she's asking for longer visits.  Do we have any chance of getting permanent custody?

Changing custody depends on a number of things.
Once custody has been determined, any subsequent changes in the parenting plan must be made with the approval of the court.

If custody hasn't been determined, things get a little murkier.
In general, the biological parents are given preference over all others, but there are lots of other factors. Having a stable 'established custodial environment' can be a key issue- if the parent trying to get custody is unstable in work, residency, or employment, that can often work against them.

This article may or may not apply, but there's a lot of good information in it that might be useful to you:
Defining "Substantial Change In Circumstances"
http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/circumstances.php

(Also, since this is a custody-related issue, I'm going to move this to the Custody Issues forum.)
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MomofTwo

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #2 on: Jul 26, 2009, 10:26:36 AM »
Biological parents rights out weight grandparent rights.
 
You do not legally have custody. You son did and he has abandoned those children.  That didn't give you custody.
 
Many states  do not recgonize grandparents rights, it would be wholly dependent on the state you and the children reside, along with your case evaluation.
 
Since you do not have custody, you would  have to file for it and you and Mom will definitely be heading to court.  You need to consult local counsel.
 
 

ocean

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #3 on: Jul 26, 2009, 10:40:54 AM »
The poster stated she has temporary custody and BM is going for more visitation. Sounds like the courts are letting children stay with grandma until they can figure it out especially since BM is asking for them to be moved out of state.

It will be a hard fight for grandparents to win full custody however what was the reason she didnt have custody to begin with? If the children were left with your son she abandoned them (although that does not mean she gave up her rights)
If mom is capable of raising them now, she should have them BUT you can get grandparent visitation ordered through the courts, especially since your son is not in the picture.

Momfortwo

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #4 on: Jul 27, 2009, 04:27:06 AM »
Given that the father abandoned the kids, the mother is going to get custody unless you can prove that she is a danger to the kids.  And if the mother can prove drug use, the only way the father will be able to see the kids is under supervision. 
 
It may not happen overnight, but it will happen. 


amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #5 on: Jul 27, 2009, 05:44:05 AM »
I am resigned to the fact that the BM will eventually get custody.  Right now there is a guardian ad litem involved.  We are now trying a different visitation schedule which gives her longer visits.  She'll take them for a week at a time, and she'll get them every other week. 
It's not an ideal plan in my opinion, but the GAL thought it was the best way to gauge whether she could handle them, and said it was better to find out sooner than later. For the time being she is the responsible party for the transportation.  We'd been doing alternating weekends before now, and this started about a month and a half ago.  She moved to Kentucky at the end of March.
Her boyfriend is now in jail for a drug offense related to meth.  She lives in a house on her dad's property with her most recent baby who is now about 9 months old.  She has two older children from another marriage.  One was adopted by her biological dad but now lives with her ex-step-mother.  Her other child, a boy around 15 years old lives with an ex-in-law. 
I think she's trying to re-connect with those children.
Her dad has hired her to work for his business which is on their property in eastern Kentucky.  It's a lumber mill I think.
Another bit of background information is that we have never disrupted the children's out-of home child care arrangements. Those were created when our son was working and was eligible for childcare benefits from the county in which we live.
The kids were fortunate enough get into a very highly regarded day care/pre-K. facility.  They have absolutely thrived there. They are exposed to all sorts of wonderful programs including swimming lessons.  It is an additional expense for us, but we're managing to afford it, at least for the time being.  We haven't told the center about the latest visitation schedule, but we hope they'll be understanding, because it will affect the continuity of their respective programs.  The eldest child, our grandson will be starting the pre-K program.  He will turn 5 on December 11th.
I am 58 years old and my husband is 70.

snowrose

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #6 on: Jul 27, 2009, 08:44:26 AM »
What happened that caused the children's mother not to get custody originally?

amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #7 on: Jul 27, 2009, 08:55:59 PM »
the mom was into drugs.  She didn't show for hearings.  She then went to prison for a while.  Before going in to do her time, she signed a memorandum of agreement which gave custody of the older grandchild to my son.  My son had already been granted custody of my granddaughter in the divorce decree.  This older grandchild, a male, is not my son's biological offspring, and my son wasn't yet yet married to his mother at the time of his birth.  There is no father's name on his birth certificate. So my son, in effect, became Johnathan's "psychological" dad beginning with Johnathan's birth until he was almost 4 years old; at that point my son fell off the wagon.  That's when both kids started living with us, and it'd only been about 1/2 year before that time, that their mom had resumed contact with them after a fairly long hiatus.  We continued with the weekend sleep-over visits (with their mom) which had begun in the middle of July 2008.

snowrose

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #8 on: Jul 27, 2009, 09:07:45 PM »
Neither my husband nor I are the biological parent of SD9, but we got custody of her when BM allowed her BF to abuse SD.  So I can't say that it's impossible that you would get custody when you're the grandparents.  It is possible you could get custody, though the percentages are lower than they would be for a normal parent.
 
One thing in your favor is that you've had the children for 7 months.  Courts prefer keeping the status quo, preferring not to move children around.
 
I like Waylon's answer:
 

Changing custody depends on a number of things.
Once custody has been determined, any subsequent changes in the parenting plan must be made with the approval of the court.

If custody hasn't been determined, things get a little murkier.
In general, the biological parents are given preference over all others, but there are lots of other factors. Having a stable 'established custodial environment' can be a key issue- if the parent trying to get custody is unstable in work, residency, or employment, that can often work against them.

But I would ask one question: is there a reason that you fear the children going to live with their mother?  Do you feel she's stable now?

amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #9 on: Jul 28, 2009, 06:46:17 AM »
I think she's barely stable; that's how I'd put it.
She's got to work hard at keeping it together.  Our grandchildren are with her as I write this.
She supposedly works out of her home. She answers phone calls and takes orders, etc. for her dad's lumber business is what I've been told.  She's got her 9 month old baby boy there, and now my 2 grandchildren.  I think her younger sister could be there too.  She's on permanent disability because she's mentally impaired and has other health issues too.  Also, their other granddad is probably around too.  He also is on disability.
This is the first week-long visit with her in Kentucky.  Before this, the visits were for weekends.

snowrose

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #10 on: Jul 28, 2009, 07:35:54 AM »
Has the mother actually filed for custody of the children?

amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #11 on: Jul 28, 2009, 09:02:36 AM »
she has. on june 26th, 2009
we did too, on April 28th, 2009

snowrose

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #12 on: Jul 28, 2009, 12:43:12 PM »
You do have a chance, because you currently have temporary custody.  It sounds like the children's mother is going to have to prove herself fit to take them on.  So I guess the answer is the same as for any of us trying to get/keep custody from an unfit mother: document, document, document!

Keep a journal of everything that happens that seems significant to you.  Even 3 and 4 year olds can sometimes tell you unusual things that happen at mommy's house.  For example, if grandpa (BM's father) is the one who has to bathe the children then make sure the court knows that he is the one caring for them.

Make your case that it's best for the children to maintain a stable, continuous environment and they've lived in your area/home for X years.  Make a case of what relatives are around you that are currently in the children's lives.  Make a case about current daycare or school that the child(ren) attend and how it's best for that to not be interrupted.

Let the court know that you'd be glad to give very liberal visitation to the mother, as you believe the children should grow up knowing their mother, but that you also are seriously concerned that the mother isn't capable.  The mother's history with drugs and giving up the children are admissable because those things do have to do with her stability and ability to properly raise them.

Good luck!

Davy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #13 on: Jul 28, 2009, 01:54:30 PM »
Not true.  The reason you have the opportunity for custody is due to the mother's totally outrageous documented behavior over a long period of time.  That behavior is far more significant than the 7 mos. of temporary custody (by default).
 
From the get go, it was a gross error by the the GAL to recommend such liberal access to the children especially when the mother is out of state.  At most, the mother should have been offered supervised visitation...a little more as time goes on and then only if she proves herself to be simply darling. 
 
It seems to me, from what has been posted, the kids would be best served if half as much effort were invested in rehabing the father as the mother,  He's the one with the history of caring for the children and mother probably wants the children for more welfare money.
 
Thank God for the gp's. 

snowrose

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #14 on: Jul 28, 2009, 09:10:46 PM »

Not true.  The reason you have the opportunity for custody is due to the mother's totally outrageous documented behavior over a long period of time.  That behavior is far more significant than the 7 mos. of temporary custody (by default).

 
That's your experience.  Don't go around saying my experiences and those of my friends aren't true.  They and I have lived them and I know that the courts do ignore drug offenses often, and they do put weight on 6 month + custody and proof of a stable home, often.
 
 

Davy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #15 on: Jul 29, 2009, 12:09:57 AM »
You never mentioned your team of friends until now and it wouldn't had made any difference in my post anyway which had nothing to do with you and your friends.   You made a bold statement  concerning ths thread and I simply disagreed.

Please keep to the subject matter of the thread rather than turn each post inward to yourself by attacking others.  Thanks in advance !   

One might suspect the reason the gp's have temporary custody (besides the ability to care for and protect the children) is due to the mother's outrageous behavior especially toward children...not just drug issues.  It appears both bioparents had dropped out of the children's life. 

The major issue by far is that the children have been placed at risk by the court (GAL) when there were clear rational alternatives.

amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #16 on: Jul 29, 2009, 08:15:38 AM »
Thank you everyone for the good advice and encouragement.  I've emailed the GAL to re-iterate my concerns and we have been documenting, and will continue to.

MomofTwo

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #17 on: Jul 29, 2009, 03:59:41 PM »
For what it's worth, I think both Davy and Snowrose are both correct...
 
What the courts will most definitely evaluate in determining permanent custody is 1) Mom's history and 2) current custodial orders and how the children are doing.
 
I too have seen cases of parents who have made some very poor choices get their children back and I have seen cases where the judges absolutely would not consider uprooting the children from where they are.
 
The courts will look at Mom giving up custody to Dad - especially custody of a child not even biologically his - her drug history...etc, BUT the courts will also evaluate how she is doing now, where she is, how she is doing, etc....
 
The courts will also consider the children have been with the GP's for the past several months, how stable they are, etc...
 
Whatever your judge considers and decides,  Davy was right about one thing, thank God you are there for your grandchildren.
 
One question though....was Mom made aware (legal notification) of Dad's disappearance when the courts gave you temporary custody?

amy

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Re: grandparents gaining permanent custody of grandchildren
« Reply #18 on: Jul 29, 2009, 05:05:26 PM »
Yes, the mom was given legal notification that we were motioning for custody.  This displeased her, and she then arrived at our home with a police officer stating that we had to give her the kids then and there.
We contacted our lawyer and miraculously found my son.  My son signed a document saying that he wished for the children to reside with us, and the lawyer got a ex-parte order executed which had a very short time frame before expiring.  He ordered an emergency hearing prior to the expiration date, and it was determined at that hearing that we would have temporary custody until other areas related to her being able to regain custody were looked into.
It's reached a point where it now feels like we've somehow been co-opted into going forward in this action (which has as its over-riding theme the notion of the BM "regaining custody" looming large), and that we're just supposed to be trusting of the process and stand by and let it play out.
I worry about the signals I give off because I happen to be a very sympathetic person, and there are moments that I find myself wanting so much for my ex daughter-in-law to triumph over her problems and reach a point where she is capable of giving the kids what they need.
I think that she does love them.  I'd love to be able to persuade her that she would still be their mom and be given ample time with them, but for the time being this plan seems really ill-advised, and couldn't she just consider doing this somewhat differently.

 

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