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My Step-Daughter is 14. She has a sister, 12. Her father has

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been psychologically abusive towards them...
My Step-Daughter is 14. She has a sister, 12. Her father has been psychologically abusive towards them for many years and has recently sent an email to her mother stating he is in financial distress. They have been both living with us for the last few weeks full time. Before they were with us 70% of the time. The father is telling the 12 year old how he promises to make things better, how her mother is holding her hostage, etc...making the 12 year old think his problems are not the cause of the girls staying us. This is his game. He has a sociopathic approach and the oldest has recognized his abusive, twisted thought process and has decided she does not want to see him anymore. The 12 year old still texts him everyday that she loves him in response to his text messages but is very strong with him about his irresponsible habits with woman and not paying their bills. He is 3 months behind in child support, has not paid the girls medical bills in over a year including orthodontist and health insurance. He was late every month with child support before that period of time. He was late every month for both health ins. and orthodontist bills to the point where we would get cancellation notices from the health insurance and refusals of treatment from the doctor since he was not making his share of the payments. We just found out recently he had two luxury cars, a lexus and mercedes during this entire time. We have had to take over full financial responsibility for the girls. My question is, the 14 year old wants to legally separate herself from the father. Can she do this and how does this work if she can. The 12 year old is wanting to see him a few hours here and there but not sleep over. He also has had a few issues such trying to push himself onto a teenage girl at the apartment during his marriage to my wife and sexual harassment complaint at his work. None of which we have documents to prove unfortunately. We live in California.
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Legal
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7/1/2011
Lawyer: LegalKnowledge, Attorney replied 6 years ago
LegalKnowledge
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As far as the issue with the 14 year old, it will be up to the court to allow her to separate herself from her father. If she does not want to see him and you do not have a problem having her with you 100% of the time, you can seek to modify the custody agreement. Unless he is doing something harmful to his children, it is going to be hard for the court to take away his parental rights as a result of his 14 year not wanting him to have them. If anything, you can seek an order whereby she would not have to see him. Same issues goes for the 12 year old. If she does not want to sleep over, the custody agreement can always be modified. If the children do not want to stay with this father at times, it would be the decision of the court to determine if the father should lose that time with his children. If he is late or fails to pay the support, you can take him back to court and try to get it enforced through garnishment of his wages.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
What would we have to be able to prove in order to convince the judge? Would the girls just need to tell the judge what their experiences have been? The current agreement says joint physical/legal custody with the schedule up to the agreement of both parties. However, he has called the mother in the past and said he wanted a new schedule with the girls being with their mom more. She agreed. Then he would harrass the girls about how their mom is taking them away from him. Then he starts harrassing the mom again how he wants them more again. Then he says he has no money to take care of them. My wife, the mom is concerned if they go to court he will try to get them 50% and she will lose the girls to a very unstable person. Should we just keep it quiet and just let things be since the girls are voluntarily with her full time and he is not legally contesting at this time?
Lawyer: LegalKnowledge, Attorney replied 6 years ago

In order to take away his rights, you are going to likely have to demonstrate that he is unfit to care for the children when they are in his presence. Absent a showing of harm or danger, it mot not be likely the Judge is going to take away his rights. If the parties are unable to agree on a schedule, it will have to go back to court and they will decide the times and dates of visitation. Moreover, you could get something in the order, preventing from having either party speak badly about the parent and things like he is doing.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Can we have the 14 year old seek to separate herself 100% without getting into a proceeding regarding the custody schedule. Would those be two separate issues or one in the same?
Lawyer: LegalKnowledge, Attorney replied 6 years ago
If the father lost custody of her, the custody would not be an issue.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
The concern is if the judge decides he has the right to have them 50% of the time then will the 14 year old have no choice but to be with him 50%. Or can she still emancipate herself from him? He is very sneaky and convincing. It is possible he could work his out of looking bad.

This is the last question. Thank you for everything.
Lawyer: LegalKnowledge, Attorney replied 6 years ago
Yes, that is correct. She can not emancipate herself from him unless she meets one of the elements for emancipation, in general .
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