February 19, 2009,
G.R. asks from Wichita, KS on January 04, 2009
Legal Advice Regarding 16 Year Old Stepdaughter in Wichita
I have a 16 year old stepdaughter that her dad and I have custody of. We have custody because her mom is irresponsible and would rather be a friend than a mother. Her mother just told her that since she turned 16, she can choose where she lives! As far as I know, we have custody papers and her mother shouldn't be able to just come pick her up and say shes taking her regardless of her age! Let me add that the reason my stepdaughter(I only say that for this topic. I actually have been around since she was 3 and consider her my own child.) recently decided she wanted to date a boy that her dad and I refuse to let her see. She had dated him before and he was very verbally abusive and many other things. She knows that her mother will not question anything she does or ask to meet anyone she leaves the house with or where she will be. She has been very happy with us and our family until this came up. She did this a year ago. We did let her go try living with her mother. After 3 months, her grades had dropped to all F's. She was out whenever she wanted. Her mother was never home to monitor anything because she was always out partying herself. She got picked for drugs and her mother wouldn't come get her from juvenile detention because she was out partying. my husband went to pick her up at 4am after getting a call from police that her mom had been saying she was on her way since midnight! Since that she has been with us and not allowed overnights with her mother. The other children are completely devastated that this may happen again. I'm losing my mind.. and sleep over this and what to do! HELP!!!
C.E. answers from Kansas City on January 05, 2009
Always get documentation. Yes, when she is 16 and sometimes younger they can choose who they want to live with but no she can't just come and pick her up any time she wants. If she wants custody or your 16 year old wants to live with her mother. It all needs to be done in the courts. I think you have handled it well so far but you do need to get everything in writing. Write dates that things happened written down so if you are questioned as to why your daughter can't sleep over night at "moms" that you have something to fight with. Get a lawyers advice they can better tell you what you can or cannot do. Some lawyers won't charge for advice. It gets really tricky at your daughters age. I would also get any documentation from the police about when she was picked up. If there is going to be a fight in the courts you need paper work. Something in writing, a journal, police records (on your daughter and/or mom), school records (like what happened to her grades and it written that this happened after she went to live with her mom), keep it all together. It had helped us out a lot.
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K.B. answers from Wichita on January 05, 2009
Good Morning G.. First take a Deep breath and let your shoulders relax, they are mighty heavy right now.
Recommendation for a Att. is Jennifer Wagle 218 N. Mosley
###-###-####, her husband also is an att.
She helped our neighbors daughter with custody issues.
Keep your chin up Mama, your doing a great job. One day if not now your daughter will realize how much you love her and want the best for her.
By all means Keep her bio mom out of the picture. She hasn't grown up YET. And Do keep accurate records, with dates and times. It helps even if they are hand written.
God Bless you G., It will all be ok. Keep breathing, in and out, rotate those shoulders, Bend and Stretch reach for the Sky, Stand on Tippy toes Up so high.
1,2,3 Go Girl!!
K. Nana of 5
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K.P. answers from Wichita on January 05, 2009
I am in the same boat, but with my step son. He also has been back and forth living with us and his mother. It is very difficult because you know that they are better off living with us then their bio parents, but can't get them to realize it. We finally got counciling for us as a family and sessions just for him. I think now days these kids think they have got it so rough. I have talked with lots of parents and the teenage years seem to be the worst time of their lives. Most of these parents have their children medicated for depression. This was not an option for us, so with lots of help from professionals (school councilor and private counciling) We have seen a big difference. From where you stand the bio mother would not be able to fight and win custody, so don't worry about that. I doubt she would take you to court and air out all here great qualities as a mother. All these kids want is freedom and some type of control over their lives. Stand firm and don't let her move back to her mothers. I always say to my step son.... I am your parent not your friend. Geting rid of her having a boyfriend is key, our son had a girlfriend and thats when things got rocky. Once we set boundries his girlfriend said bye bye and its been better ever since. Hormones are a difficult thing to deal with in boys but I can't imagine what your going through with a girl. I am here for you any time you want to chat. My step son is a Junior and will be 18 in Feb, we will see if he stays in school or quits and moves out. I am ready for either one, with the help of our councilor. All you can do is your best to raise her. I don't know about you but we have other children who for many years have taken the back seat because of his issues. We got so wrapped up with his issues that the whole family was messed up. Don't let this happen to you, you'll resent her for it later. Get some help in dealing with a teenager, as I have found out they are really not out to ruin our lives. lol Sending you lots of hugs and strengh! you are a wonderful compationate mommy!
T.F. answers from St. Louis on January 05, 2009
Even though she is 16, it still needs to go to court, and her mother would have to get a lawyer and sue for custody. However, because she is 16, there is a very good chance that the court will let her essentially make the decision of where to live. If there is documentation of the things you are talking about, you may be able to have the mother declared unfit, and overrule what your daughter wants, but it's a stretch. Still, as long as it doesn't go to court, custody remains the way it currently is.
P.H. answers from Wichita on January 08, 2009
Wow, I'm so glad people here know good attorneys. Unfortunately, I've seen this situation with my own family and when one parent refuses to be the parent, and allows this to go on, it's a losing battle with out legal help. You can't give up thought because it's in the girls best interest to fight it. She'll hate you for it for awhile, she'll call you names , she'll lie to you and tell you she isn't seeing him anymore. REMEMBER she is only a 16 year old girl and thinks she's grown up. IF you can actually get this situation stopped, bless you. What happened to us is the boy, the boys parents, our daughter, her mother, all LIED to us about thier relationship because we threatened to put his face on a sex offender website if he didn't quit trying to see her. Fortunately, she graduated from highschool before having her choices change her life with our granddaughter. I really hope you can help your daughter, she'll thank you later.
K.B. answers from St. Louis on January 05, 2009
I had a similar experience with my daughter. In my situation though she had always been rebellious and had not done well at school. Unfortunately in Missouri when she turned 17 I could do nothing to keep her at home. She ran away. Dropped out of school. If you can get her into counseling with a good counselor, she may be able to redirect your daughter. I went into counseling for myself during that timeframe. You do have yourself and the other children to care for. Learning to let go of my rebellious child after I had done all I legally could do helped me to keep my sanity and helped me to continue to function as a wife and mother. At 20 she returned home, pregnant and needing our help. If our daughters could see the consequences of their actions and how they impact their lives and ours. Be sure to take care of you. I feel into clinical depression, my very first experience with this and sleep deprevation can start that spiral downward. This caught me off guard. Take care of you. God bless.
T.W. answers from Kansas City on January 07, 2009
DO NOT just let her go live with her mother!!! Yes, it is true that she is old enough to say where she wants to live. However, make her go through the court system with you and your husband AND her mother (with attorney's of course). Besides, you already tried letting her go live with her mom and that obviously didn't work. Your daughter can have a Guardian Ad Litem assigned to her who is nonbiased and helps the court decide who she should live with. At least this way, you are giving her a voice, and her mom a chance. If the judge says, no way, can she go live with her mom and this is why......then the judge is the "BAD" guy/or gal and "you tried". Then MAKE her do what the judge orders. Maybe the judge can also order that your daughter attend councelor meetings as well?
Good luck and God Bless :)
T.M. answers from Kansas City on January 05, 2009
I know this will be the hardest thing in the world, but if she goes to juvenile again, she needs to take her detention. She will learn that what she does while at her mothers house is not so fun if it ends like this and the punishment will be less severe than when she gets older. Also unless you want an unwanted pregnancy, you'd better get her the 3 month birth control shot, I know that "gives her permission", but otherwise you will probably be raising her child soon otherwise. I've got 4 grandchildren one born in my daughters senior year of HS. My other daughter sounds like you and is raising 2 children who are not biologically her's because the mother isn't responsible enough to raise them. If your daughter has to take responsibility for her actions now she may not end up like her mother. You need to remember that children have their own minds and will do what they want anyway. I have 2 daughters one is very responsible and the other isn't they are only about a year apart, so I don't know why they are so different, except they have their own minds!