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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 13748
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I want to take custody of my 2yr old niece and my 4mo old nephew.

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I want to take custody of my 2yr old niece and my 4mo old nephew. Their parents were not married. My brothers ex-gf is a drug addict who did drugs when she was pregnant with both children. She got out of jail a few weeks before my nephew was born and was in a rehab program. I do not believe she has finished the program and I believe she is using again. My brother has been struggling with a gambling and drug addiction problem. He is a convicted felon. At this time he does not have a job, a place to live or a car. She was just evicted and has no car and no job and her only support is food stamps and public assistance. My niece has spent much the past two years with my mother and myself, both her mother and father have asked us to care for her. She is in currently our custody. She is stressed from all the drama and shuffling around and needs stability. We would like to get at least a temp custody order asap. Where do we begin? We would like both but feel the immediate need is the 2 yr old

Thank you for contacting Just Answer with your question. I am a licensed attorney and will be happy to try and assist you, but I need a little information first. Also, you should know that due to site limitations, I can't always immediately see all the information you may have typed, so if I ask a redundant question, I apologize in advance. Can you please tell me:

1) What state is this in?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Missouri, it shows now :)


Ah, there it is. I hate how it does that sometimes. Well, thank you for your reply just the same.

In any event, to answer your question, what you need to do is file a Petition for Guardianship of the Minor Child(ren). It would likely be easier to list both children on the same petition rather than doing filing each separately.

A very simplified version of the way the process works is this: In the petition, you list the name of the child/children who you seek to become guardian of, who the parents are, and the reason the guardianship is sought. After you have filed the form, you generally have to have the form served upon the parents via a process server (costs about $25). If you don't know where the parents live, you can serve a notice via publication (by publishing the notice of the filing of the petition in a local newspaper). After that, you have to schedule a hearing on the petition, and ensure that the parents get notice of the hearing date and time. At the hearing, a judge will listen to both sides and make a determination. As the moving party (the party seeking to become guardian of the child/children), the burden will be on you to show the court why this is appropriate.

Although the forms you need to file are generally available at the Clerk of Court, I would suggest you at least speak with a local attorney about this matter further before doing anything. Typically, attorneys with 1-5 years experience offer fees that are more reasonable. You may also be able to get a free consultation.

Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
By the time we did this one or both of them would flee with the child/children. I was hoping that since we had physical custody now of the two-yr old that there was some way to get something filed saying they deserted her and she needed immediate protectiion and a guardian, even if it was temporary until a judge could hear the complete story from both parents. We both feel she is in need now of a stable home, not in a few weeks or months.
Thank you for your reply. Even a temporary guardianship requires a court process similar to the one I described above; a parent is still entitled to notice of the hearing. I've just read through the Missouri statutes on guardianship and I don't see anything that allows for the filing of an emergency guardianship or custody order.

I appreciate the concern, because as you are aware, even if the child/children are living with you now, either parent is legally entitled to take them from you at this point, even though you may feel they are not in a position to adequately care or provide for the child. But, without a formal order appointing you as guardian, you may not be able to do things like secure medical treatment, enroll the child in classes, or apply for benefits that the child may be entitled to.

I'm not a Missouri lawyer, however, and there may be programs available of which I am not aware. I would try to contact a family law attorney immediately to see if anything could be done to get you at least temporary custody.
RobertJDFL and 4 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your time and effort. In the end sadly it is all about money. We will do our best to do what is right for the kids but I am just not sure how to do it financially. It seems our legal system is going to take some research on my end and some time to figure out what to do and the least expensive and quickest way to do it. After all is said and done I will also need money to raise these beautiful children if we can get them both so I can give them the kind of home they deserve. It just saddens me because I could not physically have any children and to see people drop them out and not take care of them :(. My brother has two other daughters with two other women that are older that we have never met. It's just a different world than the one I was raised in. Thank you again. I am not sure how this site works because this is the first time I have used it, but if anyone else has any suggestions, I am open to listen.
Thank you for you reply. Unfortunately,so much of our system is based around money, that's true. Even if you were to much of the legal work yourself, there are filing fees and other costs that have to be considered. While the system is ultimately put in place to help us, sometimes I think it doesn't nearly move as fast as we would like it to!

I would check with Legal Aid in your county to see if they can offer you any assistance; also don't rule out at least talking to a private attorney, even if it's just for the initial consultaiton, you may walk away having a much more clear picture of what to do. I would also contact Children and Family Services to see if there is anything they can assist you with at this point and time. Good luck.