Regaining Back Custody of Child After Giving Someone Temporary Guardianship

Updated on March 11, 2013
R.J. asks from Las Vegas, NV
15 answers

6 years ago I was not a stable person. I sent my oldest child to my mother who lives in GA and we signed temporary guardianship papers. Well its been a constant struggle for my mother to allow my child to come back to me. I have gone to visit my child at least 2 times a year. Send birthday and christmas and any other help my mother needs. I am very stable now. Same residence for 4 years, a job for 2 years and 2 other children who are with me. One of the 2 children I did have to regain custody from her father but she has now been with me for over a year with no issues. I am remarried and we have a 4 yr old son together and things are going great except for the constant fighting with my mother. I don't want to do this the ugly way but I'm starting to think I just may have to. My mothers standards and rules aren't even ones that my mother does herself. I can understand that their is an attachment there but my child deserves to be with me and her siblings. Also keep in mind that my mother has her own grandchild calling her mom. When I witnessed this I was told by my mother that I would just have to deal with it. Um NO my mother should be correcting her. My oldest is 8 years old and is so confused. Last time I went for a visit my mother said my daughter could come for a visit over the summer so in return I bought a ticket and 12 hours before my daughter was to come back with me my mother decides to tell me that Aubrie wasn't going back. That tore my world apart that I could not have my daughter for a visit. I need to know if I should just let my daughter stay where she is at or do what I didn't want to do and ask for legal assistance?? Thanks in advance

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So What Happened?

Well, my daughter still lives with my mother but visits have become more frequent. Summers and Christmas have been mine for the past 1 1/2. It's been a struggle sending her back but I know she's happy. Her happiness is what matters most. My husband and I have decided to move closer to my mother come next year so that is a plus as well.

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

I may be biased because I have been a legal guardian of a little boy for over 4 years. I've had him since he was 1. He began calling me mom when he was about 2-2 1/2. I know this was hard for his bio mom, but his therapist said that I should allow it and not correct him. He knows that he has another mother. It is really confusing to a young child who is being raised by someone (and bonding to that person as a mother figure) to be told they couldn't call that person mom. He needed to relate to me that way. He needed to feel that bond. He needed to rely on me as a mom. As much as it hurts you (I can't even begin to imagine that feeling) try to remember that it isn't something that is being done to hurt you. It shows that your daughter has a very strong bond with the mom who has been consistant in her life for the majority of her life. I think you need to really search your heart for what you feel is truly right for your daughter. I don't know your situation so I don't know what is right. It sounds like you are doing awesome now. Six years ago you made a decision that was best for your child. It is obvious you love her very much. Now, try to step back from your emotions (not an easy thing I know) and try to see things from your daughter's point of view. She has spent most of her life in another state, being cared for by someone else. You are obviously a very important person because you are her Mom, but does that mean that uprooting her entire life after so long is what is best for her? What kind of trauma will that cause her? Could it possibly be better for her to remain where she is and you visit and call more often? You could build your relationship back slowly and have a different kind of mother daughter relationship. She need to know you love and want her, but she also needs to know that you care about what she needs/wants. I'm thinking about it from my perspective as the "mom" of someone else's child. I can't imagine what it would do to him to be taken from my home. (That isn't even thinking about what it would do to me and my other children which is a totally different consideration all together.) If his mom ever got her life together as you have, I still don't think that being with her is best for him. He has been with me most of his life. Living in a family involves so much more than who is caring for the child. Parenting styles, family routines, the way things just naturally go are all things that people (especially children) find comforting and secure. Of course you want your daughter home. You love her and miss her. But is that best for her? For your relationship with her which is going to last for the rest of your lives, not just her childhood? For her sense of security? Sometimes doing what is best for your child is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. Don't make any decisions based only on emotions. Try hard to look at different viewpoints and options to work for everyone.

Another thing to consider if your mom is refusing visitation is to petition the court to order visitation. You could get time with your daughter without the drastic changes that a change of living arrangements would entail.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I think your daughter needs her own advocate (I think the program is called CASA?) Someone who is there just for HER and isn't weighted down or swayed by all the history beyween you and your mom. I think it's possible that both you and your mom are too enmeshed and involved to see the situation as a whole...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It sounds as if it's time to hire an attorney (was that "the ugly way"?)

Did the guardianship go through court? If so you will have to petition the court in the county she lives with your daughter, and request the guardianship be terminated. All the progress you've made can be shared with the court at that time.

If it was an informal guardianship your attorney can handle that as well, all I know is that you "signed temporary guardianship papers."

God bless.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

First off, I want to say KUDO'S TO YOU!!! You obviously love you daughter very much if you gave TEMPORARY custody of her to your mom when you couldnt provide for her, you have gotten your life turned around and have made a stable and loving home for your daughter!!! I, for one, am proud of you!! I would talk with a lawyer and see what steps need to be taken. For the sake of your daughter, you may need to take things slowly so she is not shocked when she moves. It may make the transition easier for her if you go in steps. maybe not though so you should talk to her to see what she thinks. Good luck, and good for you!!
so many moms give up or lose custody and never take the steps to make things right. It is good to hear of moms doing what it takes to make a better life for their kids!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

How did your mother get guardianship over your daughter in the first place? Did you sign the papers turning over guardianship to your mother or was the guardianship done without your consent? Do you have a copy of the Letters of Guardianship? What do they say in terms of terminating the guardianship? Depending on the situation, you should first contact the probate department of the court where the guardianship was granted to find out how to go about getting your daughter back. Explain your situation to the clerk and see what they advise. They will not give you legal advice, but they can tell you if you need to get legal help because there are different types of guardianship situations, some more complex than others. If, for instance, child protective services is involved, you definitely will need an attorney to represent you.

Hope this helps:)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I'm not in your shoes, i've made different choices in my life.

If you care about your daughter, leave her where she is and continue to visit and offer assistance at christmas and send birthday cards and call once a month. Establish a relationship with her and then consider uprooting her whole world, IF That is what SHE wants and if that would be best for her. Don't make this about your mother, What would have happened to your daughter 6 years ago if grandma hadn't stepped up?? You should be thanking your mom for doing what you couldn't, and start now trying to build a relationship with your daughter.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

You really shouldn't be asking US if you should let your daughter stay where she is. We don't know you, we don't know her, and we don't know your mom. What you should do is dig deep down into yourself and work through your feelings with your husband about this. If you went to a counselor to get help figuring out the change in dynamics that will happen when you bring that child into your home, it would go a long way to help you both decide what should be done.

Your mom has decided that this is her child now. There won't be an easy or pretty way to do this, the way it seems. You will have to go to court and it will not be easy.

Go get some counseling with your husband, and if you decide to take over custody of your daughter, then go into it wholeheartedly. Never bad-mouth grandma to her. When you DO get custody, be willing to let your mom see her, but if she badmouths YOU to your daughter, tell her that she can only see the child with you in the room and she is not allowed to talk ugly about or to you. If she is still pulling this child back and forth verbally, you'll just have a mess on your hands, so don't allow it.

Good luck,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

6 years... that is a LONG time to have someone else 'temporarily' raise your child. I think I would go as far as to legally get her to ensure your daughter visits every summer for a month and every alternating holiday where school has at least 1 week off (Thanksgiving and Christmas). Then I'd also go visit them where they live, but bring her siblings along too. I think it may be more damaging to your child who truly only knows her Grandma as her Mother, to uproot her simply because YOU are ready to act as her Mom. I understand why it would really hurt you to hear her call her Grandma Mom, but you COULD have not left her there for so long.

I would talk to your daughter about coming back to live with you each time you see her in PERSON... that way you can see her body language when she talks to you about it. I wouldn't force a separation from her Grandma just because you are finally able to have her back physically and your Mommy vibes are getting stronger.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow...that is a rough and complicated situation! And, I feel like I have no advice except to say it's no wonder that you are confused as to what to do. It sounds like you love your daughter and are trying to do what is best for her...even if it means letting her stay where she is.

Does your daughter have a preference one way or the other?

I'm really not sure what to suggest. I can see your mom's point of view somewhat in wanting to keep your daughter. She's probably been through a lot with you and feels protective of your daughter.

It almost seems like it's one of those things that we'd have to see in person and hear all sides of the story to know what the best decision would be. Whatever it is, I hope you can get things to work out where you all feel happy and content!


ADDED: Just read the other comments, and I totally agree with whoever it was that said to build a relationship with your daughter first. Make sure you keep sending presents for Christmas and send cards for all the holidays and call her regularly - at least once a month, maybe more. Build a relationship with her - let her know how important she is to you due to the focus you are giving her. Visit her when you can, etc... I would try and follow what makes your daughter the most comfortable. And that might be to go with you...or to stay with your mom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I worked with situations like this (foster care and relative placements) for several years. Without knowing you, your daughter and your mother it is hard to say what is best for your daughter. I had cases where the children had been traumatized by parents with drug problems, mental health problems or violence in the family. If there was something like that in the past your daughter would benefit from counseling and might understandably be reluctant to live with you. Counseling might not be a bad idea anyway if she is confused or upset about the custody situation (if she does try counseling make sure the counselor can reach you if (s)he wants). What does SHE want in all this? Do you have a clear idea? As much as you want her with you, the important thing is what is best for her (and what she wants is a part of that).

It is great that you do call, visit and make an effort to stay in touch. Definitely continue with that. Was there some reason your mom gave for her not coming for a summer visit? Usually when you are planning to change a child's living arrangements longer and more frequent visits help make a smoother transition. If your daughter was upset by the visit ( or the idea of living with you) then it makes sense to back off (at least until problems can be resolved). If your mom was getting in the way for her own could be you need to get court ordered visitation and/or custody (presumably this it the "ugly way" your mentioned). It depends a lot on your relationship with your mom if you can talk to her about it first.


answers from San Diego on

Hello, My husband and I had custody of one of our grandsons from age 5 months to 3 1/2 years. I didn't think my son and his girlfriend would EVER get it together enough to have him. Finally, they were judged to be ready. I was very reluctant to let him go. Our mediator was also not sure it was a good idea, but had no legal way to keep him from being returned to them. There were some bad times after he went, but eventually, they got their act together. I babysat him and he was really vocal about wanting to come "home". We transitioned him for a period of 5 months. Each month, we added a day to his amount of visitation with his parents. Now he is 12 and after my husband's death 1 1/2 years ago, they all moved in with me. He is as happy as a clam. However, it took a long time and a lot of work to get him there.
Your mother should not have your daughter calling her Mom. We always made it very clear that we were Grandma and Pop. However, it was like his Mommy and Daddy were called Grandma and Pop. We were the people he knew would always be there to feed and clean and clothe and love him. We were the ones who were there daily keeping him safe. Imagine how that is for a child to suddenly be told that they have to go live somewhere else.
If I were you, I would talk to your daughter and see how she feels about this. I would not do it in your mother's presence. She may try to make your daughter feel as though she needs to stay there. You can go through the courts and they will hear your side. If there is not a permanent custody order, they will entertain your wish to have your daughter with you. However, I would make sure it is done as ours was with transitioning. It is too much to ask of an 8 year old to just move her from the home she knows. Perhaps a one of two week visit, then a month and then all summer and finally, have her move in with you.
Just try and keep your daughter's best interest at heart. She is the one who matters most. However, this is also hard for you and your mother. She feels as though your daughter is yours and has done a great thing by taking her and treating her so well. Be sure you thank your mother for all that she has done and reassure her that your daughter will be allowed to visit.
Good luck.
K. K.


answers from Los Angeles on

I think you should ask you daughter, if she wants to come back home with you then go ahead and ask for legal advice. Fight for your daughter no matter what your mom says. Since you are stable it shouldn't be so hard to regain custody. You are a responsible mother doing what you did. Good luck!!



answers from Little Rock on

omg we have just about the same story you should get your child back i am going through the same thing at the moment maybe we can lean on each other for support you can write me through email at



answers from Enid on

Never give up even when it hurts the most , and you wonder what it would feel like just to have a normal day with out the pain of knowing your own mother could do this to you or your own child ! This is your flesh and blood and being a mother is not easy at any time and for you to have to sit and wonder about your child that your mother is raising will eat you alive ! My thots are coming from my heart , Get a attorney that is ready to tear your own mother to shreads before she does it to you any longer ! Its ethier HER OR YOU at this point do it before its to LATE THAT IS YOUR


answers from Los Angeles on

Dear R., firstly let me commend you on having had the courage to do what needed to be done for both your own and your kids' welfare. I lived with my mother's parents until I was 8 years old when my parents emigrated to South Africa and took me with them. I cried myself to sleep every night for a year! I hated my parents for having taken me away from the only home I knew. This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but your best way forward is to NOT fight for custody of your child. In a mere 10 years (I know it seems a very long time but, trust me, its not!) she'll be 18 and your mom won't be able to stop her coming to you! I suggest that you tell your mom that you won't fight for custody as long as she allows you and your child to have email / Skype / phone / mail / visits etc. Your mom is wrong to treat your child as if she's HER child, but its DONE!! I STILL feel as if my Grandma is my real Mom and my mom is my sister (and I'm 42 years old). I feel very strongly that I would have a better relationship with my mom if she had NOT ripped me away from the woman who had raised me as her own and tried to make me fit in with "them". I've always felt as if I was adopted! My only good childhood memories were from before I was forced to live with my biological parents. Maybe, if you invite your mom to visit too, your daughter can spend some time in your house with her siblings. I'm sure that the only reason your mom stopped her from coming to visit was because she was afraid you wouldn't send her back! Just remember the story of King Solomon who suggested cutting the baby in 2 because 2 women were claiming the baby was theirs. The REAL mother was willing to let the child live with the other woman rather than see it killed. Be the bigger person. Show that you love your child more than your mother by not playing tug-of-war with her! Keep a journal or write letters to your daughter as often as possible (even if you don't send them) so that, when she's old enough you'll have proof that you've always loved her and thought of her. She WILL come back to you. Give it time. Good Luck!

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