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Ellen, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  25 years of experience helping people like you.
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What can a teenager in Florida do to get some protection against

Resolved Question:

What can a teenager in Florida do to get some protection against parents who are mentally ill but not necessarily abusive? For instance if the child wants to be able to live with grandparents
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.
Are the parents agreeable to the children living with you? How old are your grandchildren?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The two children are 14 (15 in Feb) and 8.


The 14 year old told me that the parents came to the school and accused her of wanting to murder them and the 8 year old brother (there has never been any violent incident ever with this child) She has never been in any sort of trouble, no behavioral issues in school, for living in such a dysfunctional family she does amazingly well. The school called in the sheriff's dept and took her out of class where she was confronted by the sheriff and the parents. The parents told the sheriff they wanted to press charges against her and that they wanted her put in Lakeside Alternatives (local mental health center) They wanted her arrested and placed in restraints and that they feared for the lives of themselves and the 8 year old. From what I gather the sheriff basically patronized the parents and told them if they had any more problems with her they should call him and he would "take care of it". He forced my granddaughter to sign a "contract" that should would not hurt herself or others. Then sent her home with her parents.


The family is very dysfunctional and lives in a 1 room motel for the past 3 years . The children sleep on the floor. The mother (my daughter) does work but the father is incapable of holding down a job.There is 1 bed and no other furniture and he lays in bed all day and eats. He has been arrested a couple of times for Domestic Voilence but there has never been an incident with the girl. He assaulted the boy when he was 6 months old in his crib.


Basically they view the kids as a means to get food stamps and charity and pity. The 8 year old is in Special Ed. For these reasons I would have to say they would be against the kids (one or both) living with me. The family has been involved with DCF on and off for the last 15 years, but they are a worthless agency that only writes stupid case plans that never get followed up on or followed through on.


Recently the father has begun escalating various threats etc toward the teenage girl, accusing her of various issues, such as being a whore, etc. and threatening her with various punishments etc.He screams all the time and is extremely verbally abusive My granddaughter is very upset and wants to run away. I told her she could not run away and that would only make matters worse.


Basically I have been advised that it is not illegal to be stupid, poor, homeless or mentally ill as long as there is no abuse or neglect. As long as there is food on the table and clothes on their backs the kids are property until they are 18.


I am trying to get my granddaughter some help before this situation escalates any further. The fact that the sheriff basically bamboozled her and got her to sign any sort of document is very concerning to me.

Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.


Thank you for your information.

It appears their the situation is in fact abusive and neglectful. You can petition the court for third party custody on an emergency basis. Your granddaughter may also qualify for a restraining order against her father.

These children are living in a single room without a bed amidst domestic violence, threats of physical violence, on going mental abuse and a history of abuse against the 8 year old. Your granddaughter can consider moving into your home and filing a restraining order against her father.

You can consider filing for third party custody. You will likely require the services of an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, consider contacting legal aid. They may represent you based upon your ability to pay.

I hope that the information which I provided was helpful to you.

Best wishes for a successful outcome. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to submit them to me directly.

Thank you,

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