Custody of Friends Children

by Anonymous from Florida

I have been taking care of my friends kids for the past 4 months, father is in jail, mother is now on meth and might be going to jail for stolen property. She said she wants me to have the kids if she goes.

She has been a very good mother till now and you can still tell she loves them but said she just can't take care of them in the right way at this time.

She wants to sign a document to give me rights to them but does not want to lose them either. My husband and I want to do the right thing for the kids. The oldest child is 4 and the youngest is 1. Please help.

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Anonymous,

Someone needs to get Department of Children and Families (DCF) involved. I know that many people are reluctant to allow DCF into their lives.

If you and the mother contact DCF together and explain the situation, they may allow you temporary custody. Taking on someone else's children is a huge responsibility.

You sound like you have a generous heart, but you need to follow proper channels so that you can make sure the children have proper financial support.

It may be that you could qualify yourself as a foster parent to the children, and in that way, they could likely qualify for state assistance -- TANF and/or Medicaid. Have a look at the Department of Children and Families page on Foster Care. Displayed on the DCF site is the following message:

The Department of Children & Families is one of the state agencies charged with assisting abused and neglected children.

The department does this by providing support services to children and their families, and, in some cases, providing a place outside of the home for children to live while their family problems are resolved.

In Florida each year, there are between 9,000 and 10,000 children who are removed from their home because they experienced neglect or abuse at the hands of a family member.

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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Comments for Custody of Friends Children

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Child Custody From Non-Relative
by: Kim from Palm Harbor, Florida, Pinellas County

A year ago my friends took in a 3 year old girl at the request of the mother. The mother of the child was the girlfriend of my friend's son at the time. She had been kicked out of her home so she asked my friend to care for her daughter for a couple of weeks. It has been a year now and my friend has assumed all care and financial responsibility for the child. The mother was supposed to get the child every weekend but most times she fails to come. She was going to sign over custody but at the last minute changed her mind because she has a new boyfriend and lives with him and his parents now.

This is her 5th home in a year. When the mother does get the child she often puts the child to bed and leaves to go out. When the child wakes up she is often frightened. When she is awake the mother acts as if the child is a burden. I don't believe she hits the child or anything but she doesn't pay much attention to her either and when the child returns home she acts out, hitting kids at day care, clinging to her guardian, crying etc. My friend would like to seek custody of the child because she feels the mother neglects the child and her unstable life-style is not good for a child. Since they never signed any papers can my friend file for custody of the child when there is no real proof of neglect?

--Your friends seem to have love for this child, and want to protect her. Since they are not blood relatives, they need to go through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for the child to be formally “placed” with them. If the child is being left home alone, that is considered child neglect, and possibly child endangerment as well. --Staff

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