Child Custody Response

by Melissa from Orlando, Florida, Orange County

How do I file a written response to a child custody case. My boyfriend is being sued for custody of his 4yr old daughter. The mom died last year and her parents have had the child since that time.

The grandparents will not answer the phone or door when Jeff tries to visit or call.

We did get her one time and while she was sleeping they got the cops to come and take her. Due to no custody papers they sided with the maternal family.

Jeff is working very little and can not afford to hire an attorney and hopes the court will appoint him one, but we have only 5 days left to file a response.

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Melissa,

If Jeff doesn't file a response it is unlikely that he will be able to protect his paternal rights.

It is also unlikely that the court will appoint him an attorney.

From what you've said, I am presuming that Jeff was not married to the child's mother.

Since she is deceased, and they were not married, Jeff does not have any paternal rights until he asserts those rights.

If Jeff fails to object to the grandparents taking custody or possibly even adopting his daughter, the grandparents may be able to accomplish gaining legal custody or adopting his child, without his consent.

If he does not respond he may very well lose all his paternal rights. Even if the date has passed when he was supposed to enter a response, he could still do it. Jeff could go ahead and file a response with the clerk of court, and also send it to the grandparents.

The format is not all that important, try and make it looks like the other court papers you have received -- with the circuit and county at the top, case number, names of the parties, etc. It can be titled as: Response; or Response to Petition for Child Custody.

In the body of his response he answers each numbered point item by item; and then at the end he could ask the court to deny their petition for custody.

Then he could show up at the hearing and argue that it is not in the best interests of the child for the child to be taken from her father.

Jeff's income should not be a determining factor in a judge granting custody to Jeff. Young people with little means are allowed to be parents.

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