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  1. #1
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    Nov 2010
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    Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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    Exclamation What Does It Take to Have a Parent Proven Unfit

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Kansas

    I will do my very best to make this as short as possible, but it is rather complex. My step daughter is 12 years old. My husband has had full legal custody of her for the last 5 years, and though not via court order, she lived with him 50% or greater of the time since her birth.

    A bit about the mom of my stepdaughter: She has 7 living children -1 deceased by 7 different men, does not have custody of any of them and does not support any of them. She visits one of the 7 every other weekend. She has not held a job for years, has a suspended drivers license and active warrants, gets evicted every 3 months or less, and has been institutionalized within the past 18 months for a suicide attempt. She recently married a 19 year old she had dated for two months...now my 12 year old step daughter's step-dad!

    In August of 2009, her mom advised us she was enlisting in the military. We were very proud of her and believed it to be true. In October she claimed to be back from Basic Training because of an injury. She said she was going to decide whether to go back in or not. It didn't ring true because she had already enlisted. We did not believe they would let her out on a sprained ankle. So my husband called her recruiter, who informed us she was not enlisted, had not gone to basic training, and was banned from drill. Through some online investigative work, we were able to find where she had posted online that she was kicked out for fraudulent enlistment and providing alcohol to minors. (We also have photos of her drinking with minors from myspace)

    In November of 2009, my stepdaughter informed us her mom had moved again. Because she has kidnapped her three times after she lost custody, it is a requirement she provide us with a current address. My husband called her for that, and she refused the address. Since that time, she had not contacted her daughter at all.

    After 10 months of no contact, then she took my husband to court for "contempt" and claimed we were withholding visitation. My husband told the judge she had not contacted her daughter in nearly a year and the judge suspended visitation and ordered a once weekly phone call. She called about 50% of the time, and when she did, verbally abused my step-daughter and bad mouthed her dad and I. (We recorded all of the phone calls).

    This morning my stepdaughter came to me and said she wants me to adopt her. I would love to, but my question is how much does it take to have a parents rights removed. She is absolutely destroying her (my) daughter's psyche, and we feel helpless in protecting her because she seems to be able to BS her way through anything. Help, please!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    Nothing you have listed in your post would meet the requirements to have Mom declared unfit by legal standards.

    Your husband (and frankly not you, and your stepdaughter should not be involved either at this point) needs to speak with a local attorney to guide him further; honestly, stepparent adoption is never a DIY project and with Mom still having some (albeit sporadic) contact this makes Dad's job that little bit worse.

    One question though - and this might change my answer:

    When Mom "kidnapped" her daughter, what did Dad do about it, and what was the punishment by the court? There is a reason for my question.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    My husband promptly contacted police. She refused to divulge the child's location, only that she was out of state. The seargant then advised her that the child would be home by 6:00 that evening, or she would be charged with obstruction, and she promptly returned the child. Previous time, we showed up at the house, she claimed the child was not there, and the cops did not even search. We were awarded civil judgments for lawyers fees for getting her back. Are the recorded calls admissible? She flat out told her daughter she was exactly the child she never wanted her to be....this after not speaking to her for 10 months. I feel so helpless. And yes, this is my husband's battle, I just so happen to be the computer savvy one in our marriage!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    These really don't fall under the heading of "kidnapping". Parental interference, yes, but not kidnapping.

    I honestly think Dad needs to speak with a local attorney ASAP. What you've said again still doesn't really meet the legal standard to have Mom declared unfit. Truly you'd probably be astonished to learn how low the standard of parenting needs to be in order to keep your kids....unless Mom is obviously neglecting and/or abusing - with proof - the child, she's likely not going to be labeled as unfit. It's not illegal to be a completely crappy parent.

    Mental cruelty is the hardest thing to prove and if there is genuine concern then kiddo needs to be in therapy. Later on, the therapist CAN be called to testify as to the child's mental status.

    What I CAN see as a possibility is Dad going back to court to request sole physical (since he has sole legal already that's moot) custody and request supervised visitation. I can also see something of a chance at a stepparent adoption although again if Mom keeps in even sporadic contact this becomes less likely.

    Good luck whatever Dad decides.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Minneapolis/St. Paul area
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    Has your husband broached the topic of adoption with his ex? Perhaps she would consent to allow you to adopt (which is a much easier course of action) - especially if your husband is willing to forgive any debts she may owe.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2010
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    Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    Thanks for the replies. My husband has broached to topic of adoption with her, but that was at the same time she disappeared about a year ago, and the answer was a resounding "no." He needs to again, for sure and certainly that would be with the agreement that all civil judgments are satisfied.

    Can anyone tell me about legality behind the recorded phone calls? Because if anyone is able to hear the recordings, the abuse is clear. I just don't know what needs to happen to have them admitted into evidence. Same goes with the photos of her with a drunken teenager at her home in which she has captioned photos on her Myspace page. Complete from the time they began drinking through him vomiting and falling unconscious on her floor. I also have a screen shot of his Myspace page showing how old he is. With respect to therapy, my husband's insurance goes into effect in two weeks, and we will absolutely be getting her back into therapy.

    Also, how does the status of all of her other children living with the other parent, grandparents and others scattered all over the country affect things? Again, thanks so much for the input.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    Quote Quoting Frustrated_Stepmom
    View Post
    Thanks for the replies. My husband has broached to topic of adoption with her, but that was at the same time she disappeared about a year ago, and the answer was a resounding "no." He needs to again, for sure and certainly that would be with the agreement that all civil judgments are satisfied.

    Can anyone tell me about legality behind the recorded phone calls? Because if anyone is able to hear the recordings, the abuse is clear. I just don't know what needs to happen to have them admitted into evidence.
    What do the calls actually prove? Look, even if they are admitted, the content likely won't be enough to prove a consistent pattern of verbal abuse. You're grasping at straws here.


    Same goes with the photos of her with a drunken teenager at her home in which she has captioned photos on her Myspace page. Complete from the time they began drinking through him vomiting and falling unconscious on her floor. I also have a screen shot of his Myspace page showing how old he is.

    How old was this teenager? There's a reason for my question.

    When were these pictures taken? What were they drinking? How do you know someone didn't set up a fake Myspace page with a fake age?


    With respect to therapy, my husband's insurance goes into effect in two weeks, and we will absolutely be getting her back into therapy.

    That's a good thing.



    Also, how does the status of all of her other children living with the other parent, grandparents and others scattered all over the country affect things? Again, thanks so much for the input.

    None whatsoever. Any half-decent attorney will have that information suppressed because frankly, it's irrelevant. Even if it's not suppressed - it's still irrelevant.

    Honestly - you're really grasping at straws. Proving a parent legally unfit is an uphill battle and generally, the nature of the events leading up to that designation would mean that CPS/equivalent have been involved. In other words - if it's that bad, Dad would have done something about it, right?

    See where I'm going with this?
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  8. #8
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    Nov 2010
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    Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    What do the calls actually prove? Look, even if they are admitted, the content likely won't be enough to prove a consistent pattern of verbal abuse. You're grasping at straws here.
    They prove that in every single call, she has done everything in her power to alienate us, that she has told her daughter what an awful person she is, that she discusses things with her a child should never hear.

    How old was this teenager? There's a reason for my question.
    When were these pictures taken? What were they drinking? How do you know someone didn't set up a fake Myspace page with a fake age?
    They were taken in December of last year. They were drinking a whole assortment of liquor, all of which is pictured, the captions outline what was taking place in each one. And he was 17. As I mentioned previously, she was also kicked out of the Army for providing alcohol to minors...this is a definite pattern. I know it is not a fake myspace page because they talk back and forth (some on the ophoto comments) and he also has a Facebook page showing the same information, including his highschool graduation photos from this past may.

    In other words - if it's that bad, Dad would have done something about it, right?
    Dad HAS done something about it! We have spent thousands and thousands of dollars securing custody. Now I am on this board (on his behalf) trying to figure out what we can do to protect her further.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What Will It Take to Have Her Proven Unfit

    Please OP, understand where I'm coming from. I'm also a stepparent. And I've seen many, many other steps (and NCPs for that matter) bear with the same frustrations.

    But in reality it is very very difficult to prove a parent unfit. What you've described here wouldn't generally do it...yet.

    Like I said - at best I think Dad has a shot at primary or sole physical custody with Mom having (perhaps supervised) visitation. But terminating her rights involuntarily? I'm not seeing it. If things were that bad that her rights ought to be terminated, then CPS/equivalent would have been involved. As has been discussed, unfortunately you can be a craptacular parent - including verbal abuse to a great degree - before the authorities will act.

    In any event, Dad should be speaking to an attorney to discuss his options further.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  10. #10
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    Nov 2010
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    Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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    Default Re: What Does It Take to Have a Parent Proven Unfit

    I thought I posted this last night, but alas, I do not see it! Either way, thanks for the time and effort it took to respond. I appreciate your input very much, even if it may not be what I was hoping to hear. Take care!

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