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Raising Children with Parents in Prison For the Parent left behind with children AND for the Children that have a parent inside. Discussion of unique challenges facing this group!

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  #1  
Old 04-09-2018, 12:19 PM
BubbleGuppy BubbleGuppy is offline
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Default Questions about getting custody after release.

So before my gf turned to drugs in 2015 and ran into several legal issues, she was the center for her kids. She has now been clean for 6 months and rebuilding her life but failed an ETG for alcohol in Feb and is in jail for VoP util July. The son lives with baby-daddy and the daughter lives with her mom.

We have plans to leave MI about 6 months after she gets out. She will have full custody of the daughter since the daughter's dad is a perv (RSO) and the son is 100% with mom and wont stop talking about moving back with her.

I know she can get custody of the son too. His dad has a history with selling drugs. They live downriver right now. Only reason he got custody was because of her drug habit in 2015. Both kids spend every weekend with me in my apartment. I'm going to go into miser mode and live in a room for 3 months until she gets out so I can save up to move into a nice neighborhood where she can get on her feet, think straight and be ready to move to Texas.

Does anyone have any experience being in a similar situation? How hard is getting custody back and terminating a guardianship? Grandma got exparte guardianship of the daughter after she went to jail.

Any tips suggestions?
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:53 PM
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The issue will be with the Michigan courts, so your best chance to get what you want, or most of it, is to have a family lawyer on your side. They can provide a map of what you, and she need to accomplish in order to have the strongest possible case. There may be some reduced fee programs available, so do your research to find out what is available.
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Old 04-09-2018, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Maldread View Post
So before my gf turned to drugs in 2015 and ran into several legal issues, she was the center for her kids. She has now been clean for 6 months and rebuilding her life but failed an ETG for alcohol in Feb and is in jail for VoP util July. The son lives with baby-daddy and the daughter lives with her mom.

We have plans to leave MI about 6 months after she gets out. She will have full custody of the daughter since the daughter's dad is a perv (RSO) and the son is 100% with mom and wont stop talking about moving back with her.

I know she can get custody of the son too. His dad has a history with selling drugs. They live downriver right now. Only reason he got custody was because of her drug habit in 2015. Both kids spend every weekend with me in my apartment. I'm going to go into miser mode and live in a room for 3 months until she gets out so I can save up to move into a nice neighborhood where she can get on her feet, think straight and be ready to move to Texas.

Does anyone have any experience being in a similar situation? How hard is getting custody back and terminating a guardianship? Grandma got exparte guardianship of the daughter after she went to jail.

Any tips suggestions?
Just an fyi its not going to be that easy and its definitely going to take longer then six months. As soon as she gets out she need to get a lawyer.
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Old 04-09-2018, 05:41 PM
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Not only will she need a lawyer, but she will need a lot pf proof of her sobriety - meeting logs, and volunteering, mentoring, working at an animal shelter, whatever. Something that indicates an investment in her culture and society.
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:09 PM
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Hate saying this, but full custody does not terminate the other parent,s rights to co-parent the child. It is doubtful she will be allowed to leave the state with children under the jurisdiction of the state of MI.

Being a "perv" is not a bar to co-parenting a child. It's not a bar to having sole custody of a child. It's not a bar to seeking to terminate a non-custodial parent's parental rights. In fact, I've had one client, a RSO on the permanent registry terminate his baby-momma's rights as she was a drug addict and he wasn't. He was able to provide his baby daughter, and his daughter was a baby at the time, with a stable, consistent home with decent parenting, caring for her needs. Mother wasn't interested in doing anything except drugs. He had to jump through a bunch of DCFS (department of child and family services as it's called in that jurisdiction) to gain custody and terminate her rights, especially because he was a RSO, but do not think that terminating the rights of a RSO parent is a sure thing.

The best thing you both can do is figure out a way to co-parent, allowing cross country visitation, phone calls, Skype, letters, shared medical and school reports, agreement on things like religion, and everything else that goes into parenting. In this way, MI will be okay with you taking the children out of state and TX will be okay with receiving those children. Further, you're going to need to understand that changes to visitation and support agreements will need to happen in MI courts.

It is a good thing that this is going to be a long term, labor intensive, expensive process as she will need that time clean and sober before Texas will want anything to do with them. She is going to need a significant track record of being clean and sober. If she has any sort of conviction or DCFS report of child neglect or abuse, she can forget it.

If she doesn't have a good relationship with the fathers of her children or her parents, she can expect a long, protracted struggle with a lot of DCFS involvement, parenting classes, and gradual Re-establishment of the parent-child relationship.

Btw, the worst thing she can do is hide the fact that she intends to take the kids to Texas from the courts, slipshod her way to some sort of custody, and then move to Texas. MI can and will demand they be brought back the minute anybody complains about anything. A woman took her 13 year old daughter to VT from CA without the father's permission. Within 2 weeks there was the threat from the CA courts of a warrant. A warrant would have locked mom up, placed daughter in foster care, and eventually removed the child from VT to CA, and the mother to CA to stand charges for contempt of court. It is not a fun way to establish a new life in another state.

Further, there will be a maximum distance that you can move from the court of jurisdiction for a child. This is so that a parent cannot abscond with a child, preventing contact with the other parent just by virtue of traveling.

It can get all quite complicated. Here's the thing- courts are moving away from the rights of parents to do whatever the hell they want with a child, and towards a more full bodied understanding of the best interests of a child. This means that the attachments that the child has or should have are important to the courts. This means that parents cannot simply decide to move across country. This means that when a parent does want to move, the move must be accompanied by a change to the visitation and support agreement that does not slight the non-moving parent and does the least amount of disruption to the child's life.

When it comes to the guardianship, expect a guardian ad litem to be appointed, DCFS to get involved, a judge to determine whether the guardianship can be modified or terminated.

She needs 3 things- 1. Money, 2. A good lawyer, 3. A lot of time clean and sober. She also needs to know that with her history, she's going to have to jump through a lot of hoops. Further, a "perv" has just as much right to parent a child as an alcoholic/addict, especially with the expanding categories of people classified as sex offenders.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:45 AM
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Agree with what yourself said, only I'd mix up the order of those things.
#1 clean/sober
#2 money
#3 Attny (cause without money, you cant get an attny)
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:33 AM
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Before somebody says something, these are not cases that Legal Aid usually involves itself in. legal Aid would be the body I'd recommend people go to for the purposes of low/no cost civil legal services. Why? Well, Legal Aid exsists to benefit the citizens of the state. These are people who want to leave state with kids - this usually doesn't benefit the people of the state. Second, because these cases are too complicated. Complicated cases are labor intensive. Instead of handling a myriad of child custody cases where all you're doing is establishing paternity and hammering out a standard agreement, this would be a case involving a guardian, at least one father, and probably DCFS, and all of that before getting into the jurisdictional issues. Throw in the addiction issues, the probation or parole, and taking the case would be taking it at the expense of people who actually will be living in the state for a good long time.

Look the best and quickest way to be able to quickly remove children from the state is to negotiate and get in writing the agreement of the other parent. But, you have a grandparent guardian involved and that's rarely a quick agreement formalized in a writing to both change the custodial responsibilities and allow the child to be removed from the state. Especially with a parent who has not been sober for at least a year.

But, talking with the other parent and the grandparents and getting a formalized agreement from all parties involved allowing the transfer of custody such that visitation is limited to summers and major holidays with travel arrangements spelled out along with support obligations spelled out is worth a shot.

The other option is to leave the children where they are and leave the state. There is nothing that says the noncustodial parent has to take advantage of visitation or needs to stay in the state while not with the children.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:22 AM
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I live in Texas, and to terminate rights, you have to have someone lined up to adopt. It costs about $5,000-$6,000 for the rights termination and adoption depending on your lawyer AND if the other party fights, you have to be living in Texas for 6 months to be a "resident" and be able to file any type of court petition.

MI probably works different, and i'm pretty sure you would have to stay in MI while doing that. Get an attorney/lawyer to tell you the time line. Make sure to get one that has done a lot of cases like yours or as close as you can get, they can give you a time line.
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Old 06-17-2018, 03:01 PM
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Thank you for all your answers. After consulting with some lawyers, we have decided to just stay in MI but in a better neighborhood. She will be out next month and will only have a warrant for Eastpointe. She has gotten time served for two other warrants.

The warrant for Eastpointe is a felony VoP. Can she terminate the ex-parte guardianship in Wayne County if she has a warrant for Eastpointe (In neighbouring Macomb County)?
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Old 06-17-2018, 04:46 PM
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Thank you for all your answers. After consulting with some lawyers, we have decided to just stay in MI but in a better neighborhood. She will be out next month and will only have a warrant for Eastpointe. She has gotten time served for two other warrants.

The warrant for Eastpointe is a felony VoP. Can she terminate the ex-parte guardianship in Wayne County if she has a warrant for Eastpointe (In neighbouring Macomb County)?
You're probably going to have to call a lawyer. Is she out right now because I would be shocked they let her out having a warrant for a violation of parole
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maldread View Post
Thank you for all your answers. After consulting with some lawyers, we have decided to just stay in MI but in a better neighborhood. She will be out next month and will only have a warrant for Eastpointe. She has gotten time served for two other warrants.

The warrant for Eastpointe is a felony VoP. Can she terminate the ex-parte guardianship in Wayne County if she has a warrant for Eastpointe (In neighbouring Macomb County)?
She can start the process of terminating the ex-parte guardianship, but generally I wouldn't while there's an active warrant. A VoP is nothing to sneeze at and an active warrant can be used in addition to her history to further curtail her access to her child or even terminate her parental rights should the guardian decide to fight it.

Here's how these things go if the guardian resists termination of the guardianship:

1. Mom files to terminate
2. Guardian responds to the petition
3. At the same time that the response is filed, a petition to modify or terminate parental rights is entered
4. Mom has to answer the petition

If Mom is dealing with an open warrant, she best be dealing with that open warrant. She could very well find herself in jail dealing with that VoP, or prison as a result of the VoP.

Generally, what you want when the guardian is resistant, is at least a year out of prison, at least a year clean and sober, no even technical violations, no open warrants. She should also progress gradually in the expansion of her involvement with the children, demonstrating her interest in attending to the best interests of the children. Further, since addiction is an issue, Ala Tot or Ala Teen or other addiction supports should be pursued. ala Tot is for children who are not teens who have a parent or significant loved one with an addiction issue. It helps them deal with the addiction aspect of that relationship, hopefully helps to bypass becoming co-dependent with the addict, and provides information for them about the genetic and stress components of addiction so that maybe they can avoid following in the footsteps of their mother.

This is not an easy issue. The LAST thing a judge wants to do is to place children in a situation where they can become wards of the state because Mom was picked up on a warrant, usually right in front of them.

You need to talk with attorneys in your area, and come up with a plan for increasing contact and custody levels with the involved children, including increasing contact between children. Expect this to take time, especially if either custodian seems resistant.

Especially if anybody may be resistant to her assuming the role of Mom, you need to use an attorney and come up with a plan before you file.

But first things first:
1. Out of prison
2. Clean and sober
3. No warrant
4. No even technical violations
5. Adhere to the plan of a family law attorney in terms of timing, what she can do, what she should not do, etc

Remember, anytime you go before a family law judge, you could lose, and lose on a counter petition. This could result in the start of the termination process.
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Maldread View Post
We have plans to leave MI about 6 months after she gets out. She will have full custody of the daughter since the daughter's dad is a perv (RSO) and the son is 100% with mom and wont stop talking about moving back with her.

I know she can get custody of the son too. His dad has a history with selling drugs.

Any tips suggestions?
Couple of suggestions....you spoke nastily of the daughter's dad as an RSO. Let me quickly inform you of something that Judges know - sex offenders are the least likely criminals to recidivate (except for murderers). If he's gone through treatment and been successful in staying out, then he's a clear improvement over an unstable addict as a custodial parent.

You 'know' that since the son's dad sold drugs that she will be a better parent (as a drug user) than he.
You have to PROVE that, not assume it.

The son's wishes are iffy territory. Children have their own reasons for their wants and opinions, and often those have to do with one parent not providing solid boundaries, which feels great to the kids, but doesn't actually do them any good. Family court judges know exactly how that works, and they've seen any number of parents attempting to groom their kids to see them as 'the good one'.

In both cases, if the current custodial parent(s) are doing well with the kids, according to school records and therapist interviews, the judge will not easily grant a change of custody, because of the stability the situations offer already and the awful emotional wreckage that switching custody can create for a child. She would have to prove not only that she is solidly sober for a really good amount of time, and working to support herself, but that they are NOT good parents/caregivers.

Dude, get your head on straight - she's not the shining example you seem to think she is! she's a felon with multiple charges! You may be unconsciously projecting yourself into this picture as her partner, but no judge is going to award her custody just because she's got a nice boyfriend.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:05 AM
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I have dealt with Texas multiple times in various counties when a parent has taken a child without prior approval. They have no problem in declaring the child be returned to the state of original or home jurisdiction.

I worked on a lot of custody cases (prior to my retirement in 2013), and dealt with a dozen or more different states, in which a parent had taken the child and left the child's state of residence. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act considers where the child has legally lived for the past 6 months as the home state and takes into account what state has made prior custody orders having original jurisdictional power. Then they look at whether there has been substantial and ongoing connections to a state. 95% of the time it results in the child being ordered returned. The parent who arbitrarily took the child and moved is come down on hard by the courts with ex parte orders often giving the other parent temporary custody. It is one of the few types of cases where judges in 2 or more states actually get on the phone and talk to each other about what's going on and who has legal jurisdiction over the child.

Aside from MA (unless it has changed since 2016), every other state, D.C., Guam, and the Virgin Islands follow the UCCJEA.
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