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N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 9409
Experience:  since 1983
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We have a family custody issue. A mentally ill custodial

Customer Question

We have a family custody issue. A mentally ill custodial father who checked himself into rehab last week and Department of Health Services telling my daughter to sign away her parental rights.
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: The child is in Iowa- the mother (my daughter) is in Minnesota
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: The father is in Iowa as well No- the DHS call just happened this evening and we're looking at a $5k retainer.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Can DHS force my daughter to sign away her rights when she's done nothing wrong-- and only because she lives out of state?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 10 months ago.

Hello: This is Phillipsesq. Welcome to JustAnswer! I am reviewing your post, and I will post my response very shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 10 months ago.

I am sorry to read about your difficulties.

No, DHS cannot force your daughter or anyone else to sign away her parental rights. If the DHS wants the parental rights terminated, DHS must go to Court and file for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights. Your daughter must be served with the Summons and a copy of the Complaint so that she can respond to it and tell the Court why her parental rights MUST not be terminated because she has not done anything wrong. Parental rights can only be terminated if the parent has abandoned the child or has been an unfit parent. Parental rights cannot be terminated solely because the parent lives out of the state.

Best wishes,

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Thank you for your cooperation.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
A little over 3 years ago, she left her then husband (stepfather to the grandson involved here) and moved to Minnesota from Iowa. She lost custody at that time because she was out of state and was unable to afford an attorney to represent her in court- my grandson's father is a Veteran and had counsel provided and was represented. On the basis of her leaving the state (she didn't leave the state with my grandson, she left her son with his stepfather) who was in the process of adopting him, she lost custody of him. Since then, she has not missed a weekend of visitation, has paid child support without fail, has provided ALL of the transportation to and from Iowa and has been actively involved in his life. She is stable, has had the same job for 6 years and is doing well.She was made aware of the drug use by my grandson's father and unsafe living environment and has been trying to figure out how to file papers in Iowa to begin custody proceedings. Late last week, her Ex (my grandson's father) checked himself into rehab. DHS has threatened her with the ultimatum: his father is willing to sign away his rights and we suggest you do too otherwise, he's going to go to foster care.How do we advocate for ourselves and my grandson? How do we work within a system that doesn't recognize my daughter and how do we step in and make this right?
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for your question.

My opinion is that she has the immediate right to custody since her parental rights have never been terminated and the other parent is incapacitated from having custody as long as he in a rehab facility.

She can get a free consultation from some of the Iowa child custody attorneys listed here.

If the father will not agree to let her take custody, she could ask a judge for an immediate ex parte order granting her at least temporary custody.

I hope this information is helpful.

Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 10 months ago.

Only a local attorney can provide legal advice based on local law, but in at least some states she could skip asking for an ex parte order changing custody and just file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on the idea that she already has custodial rights superior to that of any person in the world other than the unavailable other parent.