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  1. #1

    Unhappy Concerned and Frustrated

    Greetings: First, the parties involved reside in Pennsylvania.

    Situation: In June 2005, I befriended a woman and her two boys after her husband (boy's step-father) abandoned them. He had left 9 months earlier. They were destitute, no money to pay the rent, household expenses, food, car payment, or clothing and medicine. The child support from their real father is less than 500 per month. I started picking up the expenses for all of their living, including all mentioned above. In short, I have provided for well over 50% of their living expenses from June 2005 up to now; probably more like 80-90%. I even paid for her move back to Delaware county, so that she could look for work. After a year she did eventually find a job, but I still contribute well over 50%. During the past 18 months, the she and the kids have had many medical problems, and I took care of the doctors' bills and meds.

    However, about 6 month ago, she picked up a new boyfriend, and he is not happy that I am involved in her or the boys' lives. I restricts my contacting them, my activities with them, and gets upset when I send down clothes or gifts. HE is not working, and had no place to live, so I agreed to let him and his son stay in the home I rent for my friends. (the lease is in mine and my friends name---I pay all the bills).

    I have never tried to have a more intimate relationship with my friend, and I never held any conditions over her head for the support, other than the promise that she make the welfare of the boys her number one priority. Now I am afraid that this new boyfriend has so much control over her, that she is losing site of her responsibility to put the boys first. And because I am restricted from having contact, I can't check up on them.

    My goal is the safety and childhood of the boys. I have built up a trusting and caring relationship with them, and I feel I am being kept from them by her boyfriend who is taking advantage of my kindness.

    Because I have provided more than 50% of the boys's and their mother's support for over 6 months, do I have any leagal standing with in loco parentis? Can I go to court and secure rights to visit them, obtain partial custody (for day trips), and to be involved with decisions that affect them? I understand that it will probably make me legally responsible to keep supporting them, but I had no intention of giving that up anyway, for as long as the family needed help.

    What are my options??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,438

    Default Re: Concerned and Fruatrated

    I doubt that you have any options here to make mom let you see the kids.

    You are a legal stranger.

  3. #3

    Unhappy Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    Yes. That is what I was afraid of. But I was hoping that because I have documented proof that I have provided well over 50% of their living expenses (far more than their father) for well over 6 months, that I would have some sort of footing for being granted legal custody: that is: the right to be involved in making decisions for them. Keep in mind that I am paying to house the unemployed boyfriend and his son as well, and that her income wouldn't come close to covering even half the bills. What exactly then is the reason for in loco parentis? I thought I had a good arguement.

    Thanks for writing back so soon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    I wonder how quickly they would change their tune and allow visitation if you stopped sending support?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    I know. But my morals and my concern for the boys' welfare just cannot allow me to do that. I would like access to them, but that is not my main goal. My goal (and it was supposed to be their mother's too), was the boys' welfare: IE: housing, good school, enough food, medical, etc. . Besides that, since these boys were born, I have been the only stable and responsible male figure in their lives (they are now 12 and 13). I have even opened up custody bank accounts to save for their college expenses. You can see that I am very concerned for their welfare, and just cannot take the support away. There is no way their mother can support even herself without help, much less two growing boys.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    Well, your heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, you have no legal standing to request visitation or any other parental rights. Courts primarily apply the doctrine of in loco parentis to educational institutions. You might consider stopping support payments in hopes that she will quickly realize that you are far more important to the welfare of her children than her unemployed, mooch of a boyfriend is....particularly since he is the one that seems to have issues with your involvement, but doesn't have a problem living off of your generosity.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    I am slowly learning all the ins and outs of this. What about Legal Custody? I had read that Legal Custody means that you are responsible for helping to support a child, much like court-ordered child support. Along with that I believe comes the right to be involved in major decisions a parent would make for a child,; such as school choice, medical issues, etc.. Somewhere I read that the threshhold for Legal Custody is at least 6 months of providing more than 50% of their support. Is this true? Just trying to get all my options laid out, no matter how remote, before I go to a lawyer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    I'm not a lawyer, but from what I've learned from working in the legal community, and from this forum, I don't think you have any grounds to seek legal custody. You would spend tons in legal fees in trying to find out.....first, the mother would have to be found unfit by a court before she would lose custody of her children. You are not the biological father, legal father, adoptive father or even a step-father. You are not currently a "guardian" of the children in any legal capacity. In fact, you are not even a relative and, all of the foregoing would have "first dibs" in being appointed guardian to the children IF a court first found the mother to be unfit.

    The best you could probably hope for would be if the mother agreed to an adoption specifically by you....or at least agreed to petition a court to grant you legal guardianship. But, I believe, that before that could happen she would have to petition the court for termination of the biological father's rights.....which would stop the flow of his $500/mo support.

    Without the mother and father's full agreement and cooperation, I don't think you have much hope.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    Don't get me wrong. She is a good mother. She just cannot handle the expense. Because she is a good mother, I would never think about going for "physical custody". I thought that "legal custody" meant that I would have the same requirement to supply a steady stream of support that their natural father was ordered to by the court. In that way I could be sure that with both support checks she could make ends meet. I am literally the only postive male influence in their lives, and I fear that without them knowing any better, they could end up becoming adults that act just like their father and step-father. Just want to do the right thing. It's not their fault. Any suggestions at all?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Concerned and Frustrated

    Consult a local attorney, but I think you have only false hope. I think your only options are to 1) stop allowing the "adults" in this situation to take advantage of you and stop the flow of money (except on the lease, you are legally obligated to pay it until the current lease expires, then you would have to give notice to the property owner); or 2) if you insist on supporting this group, be satisfied with the hope that the adults are spending your money on the best welfare of the children.

    As Senior Judge already posted, you are a "legal stranger". Quite frankly, I'm not surprised that the boyfriend does not like your involvement with the family since you have no legal ties.....but, if he were a decent person, he would refuse to live there off your generosity and would, instead, offer the family his own support by getting a job and helping to pay their way.

    One suggestion, since he has limited phone contact with you, send a certified letter to the mother informing her that, since you cannot be certain that your support is going to the welfare of the children since you are prohibited from contact, you have no choice but to stop sending support other than assisting with the lease, until it expires. If you don't get a desirable response.....you should cut all ties and move on with your life....otherwise, you are just being played for a sucker.

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