How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Tina Your Own Question
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, 17 years legal experience including family law
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Tina is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hello, My brother died about 7-8 years ago from Krohns disease.

This answer was rated:

Hello, My brother died about 7-8 years ago from Krohn’s disease. His oldest son "Zack" now lives with his grand father (from his mother’s side) and his 2nd or 3rd wife. Zack’s mother has been a repetitive drug user since as far back as I can remember and at this time no one seems to even know where she lives. Last we heard it was somewhere in Mississippi but as of yet I am not able to contact her. Zack is in what I (and everyone in my family) believe to be a very unhealthy situation. The "step grand mother" is very controlling not only of Zack but also of her husband. In addition both "guardians" are smokers and smoke in the house. Zack does not smoke but is forced to breathe it in everyday. I live out of state in Atlanta and every time I come to visit my relatives in TN. and try to pick Zack up for a few hours I am told he has chores to do or is on restriction for some ridiculous reason. Most recently for Thanksgiving they wouldn’t eve
Thank you for contacting our JA team for guidance. We are happy to assist you. However, we need a bit more information to more fully answer your question.

It looks like you were cut off. Please finish your question.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Most recently for Thanksgiving they wouldn’t even let him come to the door and called the police to force me to leave. Zack has asked me several times if he could come and live with me in Georgia. I have my own successful business and have had for just under 10 years and certainly have the means to support and take care of him and would eagerly do so but the "guardians" certainly will not just let him move with me and sign over the rights to do so. They would fight me tooth and nail. From what I have been told Zack has a great deal of land and inheritance that the "guardians" may or may not have access to. This may or may not be why they refuse to let him go. I just don’t know. They certainly do not have his best interest at heart. They treat him like a pack mule always doing the work around the house. He's not allowed to go anywhere or do anything except what they say. What can I do to get legal custody of my nephew? I am his closest living blood relative and he wants to live with me. He will be 16 in December of 2009. What should I do and where do I start?

What a sad situation for poor Zack!

You would need to retain a family law attorney in TN, where Zack resides to file a petition for guardianship. The court would need to find it is in his best interests to award guardianship to you. You may want to request that the court appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to assess his best interests. At his age, his wishes should be given more weight than if he were much younger. The GAL's recommendation is usually adopted by the court.

In addition, all the third party testimony in your favor that you can get would be helpful. If you can get sworn affidavits from school officials, counselors, etc., that would aid you. If not, the GAL is your best option so Zack has the opportunity to explain what type of conditions he has been living in with the grandparents.

The state bar association can provide you with attorney referrals.

Please let me know if you need clarification.

Best regards XXXXX XXXXX

Tina G


Please press the green "accept" button so I may be credited and paid for my time when I have answered/clarified your question. Positive feedback and a bonus are always appreciated. Thank you very much.

NOTE: This open forum is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is highly recommended that you seek representation by a local attorney for all legal matters. The state bar association can provide you with attorney referrals. Please remember that I cannot know what you know unless you tell me. There may be important factors that are relevant to your question that I am not aware of in your specific situation, but I will always do my best to be professional, courteous, and prompt.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you VERY much Tina!!! If you have time i have just a couple of other questions. Some you may be able to answer some maybe not. First of all based on your expereince how long does it take for this to happen if i were to move forward and retain an attourney if things went in my favor? 2nd, (this is one you may or may not be able to answer) in your expereince how much does it cost to go through this legal "battle"? i know thatws a difficult one to answer because of all teh variables that may be involved so i certainly wont hold you to it, just trying to get some sort of a ball park idea. 3rd is it possible for him to be placed more "friendly" somewhere else during the process. 4th, currently i am 40 years old and i am a very upstanding tax paying citizen but back in my younger years i did have a few run ins with the law. Now too serious, some kids broke into my vehicle and as retaliation i did the same in return and got caught and now have a felony conviction for entering auto on my record. i know that all kinds of things can be drug out into the open in situations like this, so i am preparing for the worse. How much weight does something like that hold? i'd prefer not to turn this into a mudslinging event but given the nature of the people i am dealing with i am sure it will. Any advice you can give on that would be helpful. I do know that many of the people in Zacks life know of the situation. One of his friends families knows it well and have bought him a cell phone that he keeps hidden so he can communicate when needed. So i dont think there will be a shortage of people who want to help.
If you have enough evidence to get a temporary order of custody while the case is pending, you could get custody of Zack by early next year, but it could also take many months if the grandparents vigorously challenge your right to guardianship. At his age, an attorney should be able to help you build a strong case for you to obtain guardianship. The timing though is difficult to say.

Old felonies that have nothing to do with the welfare of the child should not carry a lot of weight at all.

The more people you can get to assist, who do not have a stake in this matter, the better chance you have of obtaining temporary and permanent guardianship. His circumstances are very unhealthy and a court should see that quickly as long as the evidence is presented well.

I would expect to spend a minimum of $5,000 and perhaps substantially more. It is difficult to guess as you recognize because there are so many variabled involved. If you can retain an attorney who aggressively gathers the evidence and comes out swinging, it could be over quickly. You will also want to discuss getting the state child protective services involved, as Zack needs to get out of that environment asap.

All the best to you and Zack!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks again Tina, you have been a great help. In time i will Zack will also be appreciative. i will let him know about you and how you greatly helped to get the ball rolling for him. Wish there was a way i could thank personally versus just adding some money to the bank account that this system has in place. All i can say is thank you from myself as well as Zack.

You and Zack will be in my heart. Be well and take care.
Tina and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you