Third Party Custody


#1

Please forgive me if this forum doesnt allow third party discussion.

I’ll try to be brief. I am the AUNT of this child, not the mother.

The mother moved out of the father’s home, took her daughter (nnot my brother’s child), left her son (is my brother’s child) with my brother. Mother has an undocumented drug problem, has posted pictures of her self doing drugs while holding her daughter on Facebook. She says she has bipolar disorder (but I had nothing on paperwork to prove this diagnosis). Mother was raised in foster care, and has no family to speak of. Mother was ordered to pay 90$ per month in child support. She is currently almost 700$ in arrears. She is unemployed (again) and homeless (again), living with a friend (again) and is under DSS investigation (again). So far, she still has her other child in her custody.

My brother has been convicted of 3 DUI’s, one was over 10 years ago, and the last two were in the past 3 years. Last Thanksgiving, he was in a wreck and charged with another, but has not been found guilty (yet). He has a previous on possession (of pot). He also has a SMALL history with cocaine, but nothing criminal on record.

When the child was six months old, he came to live with me, because his mother left and his father (my brother) could not drive. He stayed with me for six months, then went home to his father. Father needed money to pay bills, and rented out his sons room to another person with DUI convictions (at the time he had two more people with DI convictions living in the attic and another with DUI conviction living on the couch). At this point, my nephew had to share a room with his father.

Then He got another DUI, and had to do jail time on the weekends, so nephew came to stay with me on the weekends while father was in jail. He lost his job during this, and the child ended up moving back in with me in May of 2012. Since that time, he has been charged with another DUI. Right now, the father plans on “dragging out” his hearing as long as possible, and will likely be successful, as it will take a while for the state results to come back (brother refused to blow). His lawyer says it will not even go to trial for a year, and that they will use all their continuances. THEN brother is looking at some jail time (estimated at a year, possibly more). Then brother will have to have time to “get on his feet” after jail time. Nephew is three years old right now…this will have him living with me until he is 7 or 8 years old.

He’s been here for 8 months now, and I have recieved NO financial support from either parents. The mother doesnt even know the child is living with me (that’s how involved she is with the child). Either myself, or my mother, have provided everything this child needs BOTH times he lived with me. The mother HAS paid child support some during the past 8 months, but I saw none of it. The child is on Medicaid, but it goes to my brothers house. This caused some issues when I had to take nephew to the ER last week. The first time the child lived with me, the child was supposed to recieve WIC, but the mother was picking it up and he never saw ANY of it. I supplied all the formula, baby food, diapers, clothing,toys and even bought a crib and playpen. Although the child lived with me for over the six month alloted time for me to claim him as a dependent, I was not allowed to do so, and the father and mother ended up bickering over who got the child tax benefits.

Brother has been somewhat involved with the child. He does call about once a week and ask to see him, but only when it’s convenient. He has no bed for nephew, so when the child does visit his dad, he has to sleep on the floor, because my brother’s new girlfriend sleeps in the bed with brother. I did call the father when we went to the ER with the child and was told to “call if I needed anything”. He didnt call for two days to check on his son afterward. There have been other times that the child was sick (tummy flu, runny nose etc) and father knew but did not call to check on his son.

On the occasions that he does have his son, my brother sleeps most of the time, leaving his 9 year old daughter (also not in his physical custody, and not being supported financially) to take care of him. Brother gets a new girlfriend on a pretty regular basis, and not only let’s them stay overnight in his bed, but allows them to babysit and “mother” his children.

So I have had this child, in my home, in my care and my financial responsibility for 6 months the first time, and 8 months this time. Thats 15 months of his 40 month life.

I would like to have legal custody. He has his own bed here, he has a dresser and toys and a bookshelf. I watched him sit up for the first time, crawl, walk, cut his first tooth, heard his first words, and bottle broke him. When he came back to me this last time, at age 2, he could barely talk. I’ve talk him to TALK instead of point and grunt, I potty trained him, I taught him how to dress himself, how to eat with a spoon and how to hop on one foot. When he moved back in, at age two, he would lay on the bed to have his diaper changed and be dressed as though he were a 10 month old baby, and would point to the fridge and grunt for a drink. He had no idea how to play with toys, now he likes to play the drums. He is happy here. He goes to Church with us on Sunday and looks forward to it. He enjoyed Christmas with my husband, myself and my own two boys.

Where do I go from here? Is it just a helpless case? have I just set myself up for heart break? Will have I to see this child go back into that lifestyle again in x amount of years? WHAT do I do?


#2

You should file for custody and child support. Since the children have been living with you, you have standing to bring an action for custody and child support. From the circumstances as you have portrayed them, there seems to be a good likelihod that you will prevail.