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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 87044
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My daughter is in a Utah residential treatment facility. We

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My daughter is in a Utah residential treatment facility. We are from Florida. She was ordered there by the Florida Juvenile Court, and the Florida Family Court ordered her to stay there when I tried to bring her home.

She turns 18 next week. The Florida Family Court judge said that she, the judge, loses jurisdiction when my daughter turns 18, unless proceedings are brought to have her declared incompetent. Ex-wife "might" bring those proceedings if I try to bring daughter home. Daughter is not incompetent, but Family Court Judge will do absolutely nothing that puts the judge at risk of criticism, so if ex-wife says that the moon is made of cheese, and if the moon being made of cheese puts my daughter at risk (or self harm), the judge will find that the moon is made of cheese.

Daughter has said she may want to stay in the facility for two more months, to finish a semester of school and to finish the program. The facility and ex-wife are encouraging her to do that. She may, however, decide she wants to come home. I think that would be best for her.

If when she turns 18 she changes her mind and wants to come home, am I at any legal risk if I bring her home to Florida?

There will be no court order saying that the old court order is gone. I think the facility recognizes she can walk out if she wants, but if it decides it wants another $22000 for two more months, can it simply refuse to release her?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

I am sorry for your family's situation.

If when she turns 18 she changes her mind and wants to come home, am I at any legal risk if I bring her home to Florida?

Arguably not. At this point, she would be an adult and provided that there is no order that mandates that she stays, she can relocate. One would not be "taking" her anywhere once she is 18 - she would be going at her free will. So one getting into trouble for accommodating her is unlikely.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.


What do I do if the facility says it will not release her? She'll have proof she's 18.

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
If so, then someone in your situation may wish to get an attorney for her who would then file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which is a petition demanding that the Court order her release if she is being held without a legal reason. Unless the Court orders an involuntary commitment, she may not be held otherwise once she is an adult.

If finances are an issue for finding counsel, I can recommend three resources. First, here is a list of all pro bono work in the state...

http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/directory/utah.html

…and another list:

http://www.lawhelp.org

Finally, you may call your local law school and see if they have a legal clinic place available. The legal clinic is a free service the school(s) provide to the community. While they are often overbooked, they have openings sometimes. Here is the list law schools in your state:

http://www.hg.org/law-schools-utah.asp

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Would it be inappropriate to call the police if they try to keep her? What they might do is to keep her medicine so that she will have to go for some period of time without meds she needs. Can the police do anything? She'd be looking for a quick exit, which is why I ask about the police.

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Would it be inappropriate to call the police if they try to keep her?

It would not be inappropriate at all. However, whether or not the police would act depends on them. If someone is in a treatment facility, then the police sometimes prefer to allow the civil courts to handle it.

She can then get the medicine she needs elsewhere after the Writ is heard and she is released.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Sorry, one more. I have to pay 100% of the expenses. Although the MSA was ambiguous on that point, the court just ruled that ex-wife doesn't have to pay anything. When daughter turns 18, do I still have to pay, or can I say to ex-wife that if she insists on continued confinement of daughter she will have to pay because I will only pay for treatment that does not include residential treatment?

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
No need to apologize; this is what I am here for!

This is a very nuanced answer, and I am afraid is up to the Court.

There is no rule as to who pays for commitment of a child over 18, and this would be up to the Court to decide. You can file a motion and have the Judge address this, but I am afraid that I cannot predict what they will state - it is at their discretion.

My apologies.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.


One person once told me that when the child turns 18 I have no further financial responsibility. Let's assume that the child is not committed; she just wants to go to a facility for any of a number of possible reasons. Am I liable for the cost?

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Friend,

One person once told me that when the child turns 18 I have no further financial responsibility.

This is generally true, although there are complications if there is an MSA. Much like one can still be responsible for part of college tuition even after the child is 18, the Court may order that part of her INVOLUNTARY commitment expense be shared by the parents. I am not saying this WILL happen and actually, the likelihood is little, but I cannot completely tell you 100% that this will not happen as I cannot guarantee it. Does this make sense?

Let's assume that the child is not committed; she just wants to go to a facility for any of a number of possible reasons. Am I liable for the cost?

IF she VOLUNTARILY, then the answer is likely and in most cases no, neither parent would be responsible.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Can you think of any way the ex-wife/mother could manipulate the situation to force the child to stay in Utah and go to some other sort of facility? (The ex-wife/mother here is not only not acting in the best interests of the daughter but is trying her best to hurt the daughter and me, as I have a good relationship with the daughter, and by hurting the daughter she hurts me.)

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Really, ONLY if she files/convinces the state to pursue an involuntary commitment under Title 62A Chapter 15 Section 631. See here.

Otherwise, once she is 18, she is free to do whatever she wants, arguably.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.

What does the "arguably" qualifier mean?

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Excellent question.

Arguably in this context means:

"I foresee this happening but cannot be 100% sure because of the limited facts I have and the possibility for the situation to change in the future."
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 87044
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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