Child Custody Battle With The Grandmother

by Anonymous from Tampa, Florida, Hillsborough County

Hi staff, a lawsuit has been filed against me. My child's grandmother wants custody of my child. My child has been staying with her grandmother ever since her mother passed away about 3 to 4 months ago.

The grandmother wanted me, who is the biological father of this child in which my name is on her birth certificate to sign some paper that give her legal guardianship and custody over my child.

I refused to do so, so now she served me a petition and I must respond back in 20 days, and now I got to Monday before 5pm to get my response written. I really didn't see no packet or forms that fit the answer or response at the circuit court and the legal advisors had left for the day.

My biggest question I have is what form or can I type my own form up to the response and what should I include in it. Thank you! Please someone give me some legal advice time is running out.

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Anonymous,

As with any answer in civil court, answer each numbered paragraph to correspond with each statement on the complaint or, in your case, on the petition. In family court, it is extremely important to dispute any and all false allegations as soon as they are made.

For instance, if the grandmother is alleging that even though you are the legal father, you should not be able to have custody of your child because of your behavior AND the grandmother's claim is false, you need to make that known in writing, as soon as possible.

And yes, absolutely, you can type or even hand write your own answer. The court must accept them. Imagine the pleadings which inmates file, many are handwritten, since most inmates have no access to a computer or word processor.

Even if you have missed the 20 calendar deadline to file your answer, you could file it anyway. I looked all over the Florida Supreme Court's site and as far as I can tell there is no form there that exactly meets your needs.

Have a look at our Answer to Civil Summons page for more information. It is not geared specifically to family law, but there may be some helpful information, and, after all, family law is part of civil law.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Legal Child Custody Question
by: Ana from Naples, Florida, Lee County

When I was 16 I got pregnant. The man left me and didn't come back for 3 years till 3 days ago. I found a good man a year and a half ago. I gave birth to another baby, was living with him and left my first baby with my mom. She loves the baby. On December 7 I moved from Miami to Lee county and told my mom that my first baby will stay until the 26 with her for the holidays. I come back to get her and she says no. I called the police and they said the grandparents filed a petition for custody against me. What can I do?

--You likely already know the short answer to your question. As you have probably already found out in talking to others or doing your own research, your next logical/legal step is to file an Answer to the grandparent's petition for custody. Before you file an answer, though, go to the courthouse and request a copy of that document. Apparently you were not notified of the Grandparent's Petition for Custody; and you should have been. Find out what the petition claims as the reason for a change of custody. Did your mother claim that you had abandoned the baby, or that you are an unfit mother? If she did make any allegations like those, you need to make sure that your voice is heard.

Unless allegations of unfitness or abandonment were made, law enforcement was likely overstepping their authority by refusing to return the baby to you. If no allegations were made in your mother's petition about your unfitness or abandonment, and there is only a petition regarding change of child custody, but no court order signed by a judge, then you likely still have legal custody. The fact that the grandparents filed a petition for custody does not mean that custody has changed. The grandparents have only asked the court to change the custody. --Staff

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