Temporary Guardianship Help

Updated on May 15, 2017
N.H. asks from Lansing, MI
11 answers

Okay, so my cousin (extended) recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, she is about 1 month old now. I don't have the full story yet but she asked if I would be willing to take temporary guardianship of her child. I told her I'm not sure yet and to let me think about it. The court date is on the 24th of this month. She is 17 at the moment and I am 20. She told me that her only choice was her brother but she didn't want him to have guardianship of her baby. So, I guess my question is, can she choose who has temporary guardianship of her child? And when the temporary guardianship ends, can she get the baby back or can i petition to keep her? I love my cousin but she has not been on a good path, she just recently was released from probabtion and is currently starting back on drugs and if she were to continue I wouldn't feel safe handing the child back to her.

Thank you all in advance.

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So What Happened?

I what I forgot to mention was that the father is not in the picture. She doesnt know who he is. The grandparents that you mentioned are both deceased. And i also have a 3 year old of my own. This is not'long term baby sitting'. This is care for an infant, family, a loved one. CPS was involved and that is why this is happening. But she still has the child as of right now.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Sounds like you need some legal advice, the best place to get that would be a lawyer, one specializing in family law.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

The backstory of Why matters here.

If your cousin was making a choice on her own without outside factors forcing the issue, then she could certainly ask anyone to take guardianship. Realize that this is a legal process, not simply long-term babysitting. I would strongly recommend consulting with a family lawyer.

If your cousin is about to lose custody for outside reasons, guardianship placement may be out of her hands. If the father is available, the courts look to him first if he is suitable. Next, courts often do look to responsible family before stranger foster care. The definition of 'responsible' can vary. Being gainfully employed > college student. Having your own home > having roommates. Clean legal history > legal troubles. And so on.

Even if you're allowed to foster your baby cousin, it does not mean you'll be allowed to adopt her. The goal of foster care - when everything works correctly - is to keep kids safe with the hope of reuniting them with their parent(s) in the future. It won't be your decision. The court decides whether or not to permanently terminate custody. If you're not up to that emotionally, it is best that you say No to the request.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

If there is no LEGAL reason she shouldn't have her child then she can walk in and take her child at any time, if this is a voluntary thing.

If the state is involved then THEY can walk in at any time and take the child to place her in another home, they would be that child's legal guardian.

Guardianship is not custody and it is never permanent.

If you have absolute proof, such as charges filed against her by the state for drugs or something that is a danger to the child, you might be able to sway a judge that the child should stay with you but in all reality all that does is put a social worker in your life that will tell you what you can and cannot do, it can be super annoying to answer to someone else but it would help you cement your guardianship.

Things to consider.

This is not your child. It is her child. A child that might very well get taken to live with her next month, next year, or even in 1st grade. She is the child's biological mother and has every legal right to have her child with her. Again, legally, meaning if she is LEGALLY doing well then you cannot legally keep her child from her no matter what your opinion is. Do not let this child think you are her mother. It will break her heart and your heart when you are separated and you will be separated at some point in the future.

Ask the mom if she'd just put it on the back burner but would she consider adoption. Not to rule it out right now but to consider it. She might be furious and grab her baby back and leave. But she might also have that seed planted and it pop up now and then.

Ask the judge for specific visitation guidelines, that means ask when she can see her child, what circumstances she can see her child, how long the visits should last, etc...I can tell you now that she is going to miss her baby. She is going to go through phases where she will call you and want to see her child every day, for hours, then she'll be gone for weeks and you won't hear from her. That's normal. It truly is. It hurts so much that she'll block her out sometimes. She'll stay away because she's hurting and she'll turn to drugs even more.

So keeping the baby away from her won't have great results. The baby isn't going to know if mom is high or not, she's going to know she's there.

I would also suggest that you clarify the visitation guidelines in regard to mom taking the baby out on her own without you. This is her child, again, if she's clean and sober there isn't any reason she can't just walk in a courthouse and ask for the guardianship to be voided and it will be. It's that simple. They will investigate but if she is clean and sober and has a place to stay they aren't going to keep the baby in your guardianship.

What our judge told us is what I'm referring to.

He said

"I am agreeing with you that your daughter is not a fit parent. I am granting your petition for guardianship at this time. Regarding visitation. I am agreeing that your daughter is an unfit parent. You petitioned for this guardianship because you believed she is an unfit parent. So if you allow this child to go with the mom even just walking around Walmart and she even stubs her toe, I am going to throw the book at you with all the force of the law that I have in my power. You know she's unfit, I know she's unfit. So if you allow this child to go anywhere with her then you are knowingly allowing this child to go into a situation where they are at risk. That's on you and I will prosecute you, fully."

I have never doubted his words and I kept my daughter from her kids for many years except when she was in my home or at family activities that I was there so I could supervise them. Even if it was from the other side of the room, I could see them and know if the kids were in any danger.

One last word. I know you will love this baby. But you have to remember she's not your baby. It will break your heart when she goes home to her mother. You will damage yourself AND her if you let it go on that she is yours. Please don't do that to yourself.

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B.A.

answers from Columbus on

I agree with others about taking this slowly and really understand the entire situation and the implications.

Please think about how this will affect your three year old. As you know, infants require a lot of time and effort. Your 3 year old may feel that you're neglecting her. Eventually she'll bond with the baby. How is she going to feel six months or a year from now when you have to give 'her' baby back to your cousin? Because even though you may go into this knowing that it's not permanent, your 3 year old won't understand that.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Your cousin can ask that you have temporary custody. However, if CSD is involved, they recomend who will take care of the baby. They will ask you if you are wiling. Then they will talk with you and answer your questions.

Is the baby a ward of the court? If she is, CSD is making the decisions and making recomendations to the court.
I suggest you talk with the CSD worker.

I am a retired police officer who has been involved in many similar situations. I'm glad you're asking questions. I suggest you not be this baby's caretaker. Being a temporary care taker is very difficult. It will seriously change your and your child 's life. First, taking care f a baby and a 3yo is difficult. Second, you will be involved with CSD. They will supervise, making home visits and are the people responsible for the baby. They make decisions. They will support you.

If CSD is not involved, you'll be on your own and dealing directly with your cousin. She can make life difficult. If CSD is not involved she can take the baby once the temporary custody is finished.

Even with CSD involved, the order is temporary. However they can prevent your cousin from taking the baby. In order for your cousin to regain custody she will have to show that she is able to adequately care for the baby. It's likely she will get the baby back at some point. I adopted my daughter from CSD. By the time she was 6, she had lived in several foster homes. Two times she was with relatives and had to be moved because Mom would make life difficult. My daughter and her sibs were placed back with their birth mother 3 times so Mom could show she could take care of them. She couldn't so they were back in foster care.

I urge you to talk with a CSD worker before making any decisions. There may be a Juvenile or Family court worker who could give you information.

It's possible your cousin is using a private lawyer. If she is, she still has control of the baby. I think she can ask for the order be dropped. If this is private order, talk with her lawyer.

She may have a lawyer even if this is a CSD action. Find out all you can first.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I think this is getting in way over your head.
Who is the father and is he going to get involved with his child?
Where are her parents and aren't THEY going to get involved in caring for their grandchild?
If she's been a junkie while pregnant, the baby could have many major developmental issues.
You need to talk things over with a lawyer and get a full idea of the scope of this.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

Do you have the resources to be able to care properly for this baby? What does your husband think? There are just too many question I have to be able to answer this. Honestly, I think I would encourage her to put the baby up for adoption. That sounds like the most loving and mature option.

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

You are young yourself. Are there no grandparents who can care for this baby?

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X.Y.

answers from Chicago on

Have you tried to encourage her to put the baby up for adoption? I know several wonderful couples who cannot conceive and who would love to adopt a newborn! Please try to talk to her about giving this baby a chance at a good life.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

First, let me assure you that once you have guardianship, CPS will close their case and they won't bother you anymore. Been there, done that.

You apply for temporary guardianship when you apply for full guardianship. The court will give you temporary guardianship until a full guardianship hearing. There is no case where they put an expiration date on full guardianship. If you want to give the child back to the parent, then a petition to terminate guardianship is filed. Check your local court's website - they probably have informational sheets you can read because it doesn't sound like you're that familiar. I have guardianship of two grandchildren because of CPS cases. Like I said, been there, done that.

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D.K.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Will she consider giving the child up for adoption to a family looking for an infant? It sounds like that may be the best outcome for the baby. When your cousin is clean, finishes school, gets a job and can support a child would be a much better time for her to have one.

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