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 ANDREA, Your Own Question
ANDREA,, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  25 yrs Family Law, Real Estate & Business Law, Criminal Defense, Immigration, Employment Law
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
ANDREA, is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My friend is from Haiti. His lives in Ohio with his wife, who

This answer was rated:

My friend is from Haiti. His lives in Ohio with his wife, who is an American citizen, and his two daughters, 3 and 12 years old. The 3 year-old is born is from him and her biologically, but the 12 year-old is a green card holder as my friend is, and her mom resides in Haiti. Now, today the police came and evicted my friend out of his house and told him he was not allowed to see his daughters until after he appears to court in 11 days, depending on what the outcome of the procedure. The allegation is domestic violence, namely the wife and daughter do not feel safe around him, but no direct accusation of physical abuse.
Is it possible for the law to grant custody to a step-mother of a step-daughter who is not even a US citizen? If my friend loses custody of the kids, can he request that the Haitian daughter live with her biological mom in Haiti? The issue is that he does not trust his wife is a safe person to raise his daughter after betraying and trying to get him imprisoned based on false accusations. Please advise and I might even refer my friend to a good lawyer.

Hello and Welcome to JustAnswer, My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with Excellent Service, Thank you for your question,


I am sorry to hear that the stepmother has managed to turn the daughter against her father with false accusations. I can only imagine how badly your friend feels. Not only is he falsely accused, but his daughter is one of the accusers. The stepmother must be very malicious to be doing this.



You asked,


1. "Is it possible for the law to grant custody to a step-mother of a step-daughter who is not even a US citizen?


Answer 1


It is possible to award custody of a child to a stepmother if it is the stepmother who has been taking care of her for any length of time. Citizenship is not an issue in custody cases. The law looks at such a case as "What is in the best interests of the child". If the father is found guilty of domestic violence (even though the accusations are false), the immediate alternatives would be to either place the daughter in a foster home, or award at least temporary custody to the stepmother. The Judge would prefer to award custody to the stepmother who has been caring for her, rather than place her in a foster home.

You also asked,

2. "If my friend loses custody of the kids, can he request that the Haitian daughter live with her biological mom in Haiti? "


Answer 2


It is not so easy to lose custody. Domestic violence against the daughter must be proved in order to lose custody. There are many things a Judge would ask, such as,


-If the daughter and wife were subjected to the father's violence, why aren't there any police reports ?


- Why aren't there any bruises or marks on the wife or daughter;


- Why aren't there any hospital reports from an Emergency Room for either the wife or the daughter


And similar questions.


However, in the unlikely event that the father loses custody, he can request that his daughter live with her biological mother in Haiti, but that will not be given much consideration because he would no longer be the custodial parent. What would be a very strong argument is if the biological mother came to Court and filed a Petition to give her back her daughter and take her away from the stepmother,


Please be kind enough to rate my service to you as "Excellent Service",

Bonus and Positive Feedback are greatly appreciated,


Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,





ANDREA, and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much for your answer, Andrea. It was very helpful. Can I ask a couple of follow-up questions?


My friends had a written conversation with his older daughter and she reported to him that her step-mother told her to call 911 on her dad, should she be alone at home with him and feel uncomfortable. She asked her why, and she replied, "Just in case." Next, the daughter said that her step-mom took her to the doctor, who asked her some unpleasant questions such as, "if your step-mom and dad get divorced, do you feel safe living with your dad?" To which she responded, "I don't know." And then the doctor followed with something to the effect of "I am going to see what I can work out for your mother (namely the step-mom)." The girl used the word "unpleasant" to qualify the doctor's conversation with her, specifically on the scratch paper on which she told her dad about the issue. The father started the written conversation because his wife was home and he was trying to find out why she took his daughter away without saying where they went and so forth.


If my friend produced this written evidence from his daughter's handwriting and his, as the court can assess, will that help his situation in any manner?


Also, if his wife's accusations are found false and unfounded by the court, what will be her penalty, if any? Or what can my friend do to see to it that she bears the responsibility of her false accusations?


Thank you for your help.



Hi, Welson, Thank you for the "Excellent Service" rating, I appreciate it greatly,


Yes, you certainly may ask some follow up questions.


It appears to me that the stepmother is doing irreparable psychological, emotional, and mental harm to your friend's 12 year old daughter. The stepmother is prompting her to say and do what she wants her to say and do in order to use these things against your friend but she's playing mind games with the 12 year old which will stay with her for a very long time.


It would be good if these written communications between your friend and his daughter were introduced into evidence at his hearing, but my concern is that the authorities may have told your friend not only to stay away from the children and his wife, but also they might have told him not to have any communication with them during this time before the hearing. So, if he introduces these written communications with his daughter, they might use them against him. You never said if there is a "Tenporary Restraining Order" entered against your friend. If, in fact, there is such a Temporary Restraining Order, your friend will be cited for Contempt of a Court Order and that can be extremely harmful to him, including being given jail time for the Contempt.


If your friend cannot afford a lawyer, he should apply for legal representation through the Public Defender's Office in his County. They are very experienced lawyers, but they are so loaded down with cases that they cannot give each case the time it deserves. Your friend should not venture into Court without a lawyer because domestic violence convictions will stay on his record the rest of his life, not to mention possible jail time, if he is convicted.


He can also apply here:



His lawyer must interview your friend's daughter to get to the truth that the stepmother is telling her what to do and say. The doctor's character is also questionable and appears to be in collusion with the mother. First of all, on what basis did the stepmother rely in taking the daughter to the doctor and why would the doctor ask her such questions about whether or not she felt safe with her father when he had done nothing to his daughter.


He or his lawyer should get in touch with the stepmother's friends to find out why she is doing this, what is her ulterior motive, is she having an affair with someone ? Why is she doing this to your friend ? There has to be some basic reason and once that is discovered, that can be used against her to impeach her credibility so that she looks like the liar that she is, to the Judge,


If the stepmother is trying to have your friend charged with sex with a minor, he will have that stigma all his life and will constantly have to register as a sex offender. Please, tell your friend that this is not a case where he should go it alone, a lawyer, a good, experienced lawyer is absolutely necessary to fight these charges.



His lawyer will be able to prove that the stepmother lied and made false accusations and he can then ask the District Attorney to file charges and prosecute her for perjury and making false statements to authorities. Your friend can also file a civil lawsuit against her for slander and defamation of character.



Please be kind enough to rate my service to you as "Excellent Service",


Bonus and Positive Feedback are greatly appreciated,


Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks again Andrea.


To clarify, yes, my friend has a restraining order to not approach or communicate with the kids or his wife. However, the written communication I mentioned above (between my friend and his 12 year-old) happened before my friend got the restraining order imposed on him by the police yesterday. He had that conversation with her at least a week or two ago. So, he has not violated the law in this sense. He just knew that the girl would not feel free to speak out loud about these issues while the step-mom was home. Also, the girl initiated the talk, if I remember correctly because she is smart enough to notice that her parents are not in a harmonious relationship and that the dad is being accused of treating her poorly.


Actually, the wife's motive is most likely not an affair but a dead marriage, where she fell out of love with her husband early in the marriage because they have not gotten along well. And to make matters worse, my friend decided to go to Haiti and take the 12 year-old daughter to visit with her biological mom this July. So, my friend believes that his wife is trying to obtain custody of the kids so he would not be able to go to Haiti with any of them, as she intends to divorce him by the time he goes to the country or later. She is just fighting to obtain custody of the kids as she has no hope for the marriage relationship.


Now, I was my friend's best man at his wedding with her, and I had been communicating with her until last Christmas in order to mediate between the misunderstandings they had in order to salvage their marriage (my friend told me he did not want a divorce). Now, I am a trained minister, but I was providing non-formal/unpaid religious counseling so as to save the marriage based on the faith that both my friend and his wife share (and on my own conviction that divorce should be a last resort.). They have been married for over 3 years now, and I had been part of their lives ever since they were engaged.


I know the marriage was not working out in terms of communication and other compatibility/adaptability issues, but I never realized she could get my friend evicted from the home with no place to go, and no other family in town, or try to take the kids from him.


Please advise as to how these information might help with the case or not. Thanks Andrea.


I already told my friend to get a lawyer and he is working on it. He has to appear to court on April 30th. In the meantime, he is trying to contact the local Children's Protective Services to see if he can obtain more details about what he is being accused of and see if they can help assess the lack of foundation of the allegations. Is that advisable? Or should my friend go straight to court, armed with a competent lawyer?


Thanks for your service, Andrea.





Your friend should go to Court, as we both agree, "armed with a competent lawyer". However, he should make every attempt to find out what he is being accused of because it is pretty difficult to defend yourself and refute the other party's allegations when you do not know what these allegations are.


The communications between your friend and his daughter will be extremely helpful, if the daughter testifies honestly about the date of these communications. Your friend should not try to communicate with his daughter verbally, or in writing, even if there were no Restraining Order because he would want to make every attempt to avoid appearing as if he would be trying to influence his daughter. If you could speak to the daughter confidentially, it would help a great deal. I never like to see children involved in Court proceedings, but in this case, it is extremely important that she be involved. She would not have to testify in open Court, but your friend's lawyer could approach the Judge and tell the Judge what the stepmother is doing and ask the Judge to take the child into his chambers and ask her questions away from everyone else. Judges have a way of talking to children and making them feel comfortable and they know what to ask and how to ask a child questions. This is extremely important for another reason - Now that you have told me what the stepmother is doing, it is of the utmost importance that she absolutely Not be awarded custody in the event of a divorce. She will continue to poison the daughter's mind for her own benefit and without regard to the long term psychological effects that it will certainly have on the daughter,




Please be kind enough to rate my service to you as "Excellent Service",

Bonus and Positive Feedback are greatly appreciated,


Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Andrea,


Thanks for always answering so helpfully. I am glad to let you know that my friend is meeting with his lawyer this Thursday to come up with a game plan.


Now, he is concerned that if he loses the lawsuit that he might get deported to Haiti. Do you have any insights in this regard? Thank you very much.



Hi, Welson,


I hope you are in agreement with the Terms of Service that this constitutes a new quesiton because it is not a follow up for clarification of my initial Answer. so please give me a positive rating. Your friend's attorney should familarize himself with which crimes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (Formerly, the Immigraiton and Naturalization Service "INS") considers deportation. Among these crimes are drug charges, crimes involving moral turpitude and domestic violence.. The USCIS takes domestic violence very seriously. This is a relatively new ground for deportation (6 years or so) and the US Courts warn defendants in your friend's position to consult with their attorney regarding the ramifications of either a convicrion, or to entering a plea of guilty to domestic violence in exchange for a lighter sentence. Therefore, your friend should be counseled not to plead guilty under any circumstances.


I think he will do well as long as his attorney does his homework and interviews all the partiies, including the daughter and also convincing the Judge to quesiton the daughter in chambers,




Please be kind enough to rate my service to you as "Excellent Service",

Bonus and Positive Feedback are greatly appreciated,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,


ANDREA, and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you