Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
My great nephew was removed from my niece's custody by the state in April. He was placed with his biological father (who happens to be a registered sex offender). He was removed because she had left the child with her boyfriend while she worked and when she got home from work that night the child had a bump on his left cheek. She was told that he had fallen. The next morning it was completely swollen and had even caused his eye to be swollen. She called her sister to come over and when her sister got there she grabbed the child and put him in the car and took him to the emergency room. The mother went behind my other niece and the child. Family services was called in because it wasn't reported within so many hours. They removed the child from the home. She kicked the boyfriend out becuase everyone knew that the boyfriend had done something. This wasn't just a fall. The child was placed in State custody and temporarily placed with his biological father. They gave her a whole list of things she had to to do in order to get her child back: parenting classes, counseling, psyche evaluation, get a job, and a place to live. (She had lost her job and therefore lost her house.) She has done everything but get a place to live and a job. She has been living from one friend to the next and has now run out of friends who will let her stay with them, so she is homeless. I have offered to have her come and live with me, which is 4 hours away from where this all took place. I have arranged for a job here for her. I thought this would be good so she could get back on her feet. Her court appointed attorney told her today that she should not leave that area because it would look bad on her because it would look like she left her son. SHE HAS NO WHERE TO LIVE! My opinion is that it would look better to have a home and a job than to be living in a homeless shelter with no job. Do you think she should move here and get her life back on track or will that cause her to lose her son for good? I have offered to hire a private attorney instead of using a court appointed attorney, but will not do that unless she is living here so that I can make sure she is working and doing everything she needs to be doing. Please help!
Dear Customer: Thank you for this question. It sounds like one thing is certain. You are a very good support base for this mother who very much needs you. The appointed attorney has likely gone through several similar cases in her area and may know that leaving the child will affect her ability to succeed. It is in the child's interest to have all three things that are being mentioned here 1. contact with the mother regularly, 2. a safe home for the mother (and the child eventually) and 3. a job that will help her to provide for the child. I think that based on the attorney's advice, the best avenue would be to enable the mother to stay in town while the case is ongoing. If you could appear and testify to the judge that she will have a home and a job, this will help her succeed and then be able to move once things are set. It will help even more if you can bring pictures of the home the mother will live in once she leaves, and documentation that proves the job is real.
I see that you are typing so I will standby.
So, you think if I have her go to this certain homeless shelter that offers all kinds of services for people in her situation until we go to court and then testify before the judge, that maybe that would help? I just want her to be safe and I want to help her get her son back. Thank you.
Yes, I think that this will help. Perhaps the most significant thing here is this: A Judge would use the fact that a mother is homeless against her. But, your testimony and proof that the situation will change as soon as the judge orders the child back with the mother is the perfect out for the judge. It cancels out the judge's concern in that way, without risking the mother leaving now.
Now, if the appointed attorney is not interested in the proof that you can offer regarding the home and the job, it is, in my opinion time for a new lawyer.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).