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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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I have been mentoring a 16 year old gay African American male.

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I have been mentoring a 16 year old gay African American male. He has just been removed from his mothers home and put into state custody.

He is currently living in a group home awaiting a foster home. From my elementary research, I have found that statistics show there is a
– 3x Higher Arrest Rate
– 3x Higher Delinquency
– 2x Higher Teen Motherhood
– 40% Lower Employment
for children placed in foster care.

I am not related to the child in anyway other than he was looking for support and a stable environment to be himself in.

I am interested in helping him Emancipate himself, move into my home, and support him through his remaining childhood and into adulthood.

Is there a way to get emancipation in NJ for a Minor, or.. Is there a way I can petition the court asking for guardianship?
Thank you for your question. I am a licensed New Jersey professional. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

Beyond your mentorship, what is your role with this child? How long have you known him? Are you yourself fit? My apologies on an indelicate question, but is your relationship with this child purely platonic? (I am asking purely because the courts may also). Please advise!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have been just that a mentor. I have given him a place where he feels comfortable and safe. I have known him for approximately 2 months.


 


In regards XXXXX XXXXX questions about myself being "fit" do you mean: Am I able to provide a safe and secure living environment along with being able to bare the financial burden of caring for the child? If so, Yes.


 


The relationship with the child is platonic.


 


No need to apologize for any questions. I realize what I am up against.


 


It may help if I provide you some additional information as well.


I have been in a relationship with the same male for 13 years. He was previously married and due to family issues had given his parental rights to his ex wife. With that being said, we have both been very much involved in the raising of his children (financially and emotionally). His daughter now 21 lived with us for some time during her early teen years. She currently lives with us. His son being currently 15, has known me for a majority of his life.


 


 


I feel that our stable relationship, previous experience with the difficulties of raising a child, does make me "fit"


 


In my opinion, (and I know the court may have its own) I feel that it would be best for the child to reside in my home, under my guidance, support, and care over going into a group home/foster care.


 


From State Statistics the average time in foster care is approximately 26.4 months. This child will be 17 years of age in April of 2014.


 


Which using those statistics -says he will age out prior to obtaining an adoption.


 


I apologize for such a lengthy response. I am just very passionate about this.

Matthew,

I can completely understand your passion and concern. One of the reasons I chose to answer your question is because this is a most unique situation and one where I see that you are attempting to approach it from the best possible personal belief.

As you likely read in the article, the courts focus on not just your fitness, but whether or not you have a strong and a significant bond with the child. If you have known him for 13 years, have an on-going healthy relationship, are seen as a responsible parental figure, then you could consider pursuing the kinship role. But what you are asking are really two different things. Asking for emancipation is permitted if the child can show that he is able to care for himself, he can cover his own costs and schooling, medical care, clothing, shelter, schooling, and so forth. For that you can retain a Guardian Ad Litem for him, his own attorney who could file for emancipation on his behalf. But then you cannot provide assistance--he has to provide and show his own wages, his own job, and his own income. Living with you would not make him emancipated. So then you would need to file for kinship guardianship, and that you can do at the county family courthouse where the individual currently resides.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Are there any prior or current cases that I can reference to learn more about the kinship and the out come of those cases?


 


Does it or would you suggest that I obtain an attorney to move forward with the filing or is it something I can do myself.


 


I have already spoken with a former DYFS worker and she is willing "to go to bat for me" and help with this.


 


I am asking only because, I do not want to go file paper work on my own and miss something that would be a potential "loop hole" for the state to come back and deny my request.


 


Also, my last question and I thank you for taking your time tonight to help me.


 


With the minor being 16, does he have any right it requesting/petitioning the court as to where he would like to live? If he approaches it in a mature and justified manner.


 


 

Thank you for your follow-up, Matthew. To answer directly:

Are there any prior or current cases that I can reference to learn more about the kinship and the out come of those cases?
To be honest with you, the best cases are the ones cited in the article--the article appears to be from 2013, and has the newest and most current case law up to date.

 

 

Does it or would you suggest that I obtain an attorney to move forward with the filing or is it something I can do myself.

You can do this on your own. There is no inherent obligation or need for counsel but if you are expecting an unsympathetic judge, retain counsel.

 

 

I have already spoken with a former DYFS worker and she is willing "to go to bat for me" and help with this.

Please be careful. While this is a very good thing, DYFS is one of those entities that quite rightfully gets an unwelcome rap--their interest is in the child but they may turn on you so while it is potent tool for you, it is a mercurial ally at best.

 

 

I am asking only because, I do not want to go file paper work on my own and miss something that would be a potential "loop hole" for the state to come back and deny my request.

Won't happen. Family courts are generally 'pro se' litigant friendly, or at least tolerant of errors. Judges tend to be extremely permissive and would not base their decisions on a loop hole.

 

Also, my last question and I thank you for taking your time tonight to help me.

 

 

 

With the minor being 16, does he have any right it requesting/petitioning the court as to where he would like to live? If he approaches it in a mature and justified manner.

Yes, he does. BUt one thing you have to keep in mind is that the courts tend to ask based on parents not guardians. The judge can still interview him based on your claimed bond, and whether he sees you as a positive influence. If the child answers properly, the courts can take that into serious consideration, but the courts can still choose to ignore his wishes.

 

Good luck.

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