we are grandparents of a 5 year old girl, my daughter [ the childs mother] is in an abusive relationship with the girls father but she will not leave or press charges for fear of him taking off with the child. My daughter and her boyfriend both have drinking and drug issues. The child has both their last names on the birth certificate. To date there has been no legal or custody filings. Ques, does the mother have the right to sign over custody [ even temporary] to us the grandparents. Further we suspect the boyfriend has other child support issues out of state [ we are in New Jersey ] and possible felony charges pending. He also regulary drives my daughter car with no drivers licence. We sent the police for a welfare of child visit but of corse everything was fine. We also called DYFUS [ child welfare ] and sent them for a visit that should occur today. What course of action should we take?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): New Jersey
DearCustomer- If there are no custody orders your daughter can agree to sign over her rights however the father can refuse to sign over his rights and try to file for custody of the child. In order for the court to award full custody to someone other than a parent you must show that the parents are unfit to raise the child if they will not agree to the change of custody. So I'm not certain what position the father will take in all of this or whether he would contest the custody change assuming your daughter agrees.
Based on your facts it would appear that you have a good case for the parents being deemed unfit however I'm a bit concerned that child services found no evidence of any wrongdoing in their investigation. The burden would be on you to show that the parents are unfit so you would need some evidence of that fact and just your word as to what you think is happening may not be enough to convince a court. If there are felony charges pending they would be a matter of public record as would the fact of no drivers license. So before you file any court action you should be certain that you can prove some of things you are talking about so you don't end up in court with no proof and child services reporting that they didn't find any problems.
Obviously if both the mother and the father agree to the change in custody none of this is a problem. If your daughter will agree to sign over her rights and the father doesn't file anything in court then you would have the custody. The father has no rights until he files something with the court.
25 years experience as practicing attorney
Thanks Dave, First of all it was the police that reported 'no problem' Child services visit should occur today. Can my daughter sign over her parental rights without going to court and if so how do we proceed? Further how can we find out if the boyfriend has outstanding warrents and or past due child support from his other children?
In order to have any official "rights" there must be a court order and if there are no court orders at this time there is no case file in which to file any change of custody. So in order for you to have court ordered custody you are going to have to file an action in the family law court for custody of the minor child and your daughter will have to sign an agreed order. The father will have to be served with the paperwork since he is on the birth certificate and whether he objects or not I cannot predict. If child services will issue a temporary order for you to have custody that would save you a lot of trouble getting things started since that would start a court case and then you could file for permanent custody under that case. So you probably should wait to see what child services does and whether you can obtain at least temporary custody from them to get things started.
In order to find if there are charges or warrants against the father you will at least need to know in what county they might have been issued. Then you can go onto that county's website and see if anything appears under his name. I know of no way to find out about past due child support unless there is some record of a contempt action in a family court where he may have lived. It really wouldn't be relevant as to whether he is unfit to raise your grandchild.
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