Legal Custody of Granddaughter

by Cathy from Lake City, Florida, Columbia County

Legal custody of 7 month old granddaughter. I have a granddaughter who is now 7 months old, her and her mom (my daughter) lived with me before she was born and after.

The problem is the baby is a US citizen and the parents are not.

The father wanted my daughter to have an abortion and I convinced her not to, so he left her. I took care of her and the baby after she was born.

After the birth of the baby she said if I do not take her she will give her up for adoption so I decided to take the child. We left the USA and went to the Caribbean where she now lives, and I left the baby with her, who at that time was 3 months old.

In August she called saying she cannot take care of the baby, so I went and got the baby at which time she gave me a signed stamped letter telling me that she gave me legal guardianship over the baby until she is financially able to take care of her. So I brought the baby back to the USA.

The baby had lost a lot of weight and had a terrible cold and diarrhea when I got her from my daughter, so I went and got my grand-baby medical attention right away. I have not heard from my daughter for 2 months so I send some pics of the baby.

Now that she saw the pictures she wants the baby back. She is cussing and fussing saying she is not working yet, but she will hustle to feed the baby. She has no stable place to live and her boyfriend has an open house and does drugs alot and he does not work either.

I need to know do I have any legal rights at all as a grandmother and what can I do to avoid this child leaving the USA and going with her mother where I know she will suffer or probably be handed over to strangers.

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Cathy,

There are some steps that you can take to keep the child with you.

The most important consideration in child custody is the best interests of the child.

As a grandmother, you can petition the court for Temporary Child Custody by an Extended Family Member, under Florida Statute 751.

Most often, this is a consensual arrangement, but it doesn’t have to be.

On the form itself, which is available online at many of the clerk of courts websites, there are paragraphs that pertain to a family member taking custody against the wishes of the natural parent for the safety of the child.

I rarely recommend this next step, but my suggestion is that you involve the Department of Children and Families and Child Protective Services.

Since you already have the consent of your daughter that you act as temporary guardian; those agencies should be able to help you enforce that agreement.

The fact that she changed her mind is not completely persuasive, especially if she signed a paper stating that you should take care of the child until your daughter is financially able.

If she is not financially able, then the child should remain with you. Your argument is also persuasive, because there is drug abuse in the household. Also, the child is a U.S. citizen. I’m not quite sure why the child is a citizen if neither of her parents are citizens.

But, since the child is a U.S. citizen, you could petition the court to prevent the child’s removal from the U.S. based on citizenship. You can request that the court take possession of the child’s passport, and request the court to issue an order preventing the child’s removal from the U.S.

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 Legal Custody of Granddaughter

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Granddaughter Has Lived With Me For 13 Years
by: Anonymous from Florida

My granddaughter has lived with my husband and I for 13 years, her mother now wants her to come live with her and says she has no choice. My granddaughter is terrified as she doesn't want to be uprooted again. Her mom has tried this several times and it never works out, she gets a boyfriend and then my granddaughter isn't as important anymore, so she's back with me. She says she has given her so many chances and doesn't want to go through it all again. Does she have any say at 13 of where she wants to live?

Her mother has given me guardianship but won't give up custody because even though she lives with us and we pay for everything she refuses to let us claim her on our taxes. I could care less about the money I just don't want her hurting my granddaughter anymore, she's already done enough damage.

The men she has lived with have been abusive and beaten her and my granddaughter has been a witness to this, every time they are together they fight so terribly last time she was here I had to threaten to call the police if she didn't leave, my granddaughter ran out the door and down the street to get away from her.

Now she's living with another man, whom she was seeing while living with the last one. She is a terrible example for my granddaughter, and very verbally abusive, which I'm sure could lead to physical abuse, which she did do when she was younger and my granddaughter couldn't defend herself.

--This is so sad. The answer to your question is that most courts will consider your granddaughter's testimony depending on her level of maturity, but it is ultimately up to the judge. It sounds to me from what you've written that a court will be sympathetic to you and your granddaughter's wishes. Best of luck. --Staff

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