Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    11

    Default Have Custody of My Cousins, Now What

    My question involves guardianship in the State of: Washington

    I wrote about the kids' mother a year ago in this thread, which is now closed http://www.expertlaw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=124221

    Basically, what recently happened is that the mother left the house to move to another town to be with her girlfriend, leaving the kids in the house with me, my mother and sibling. We all raise the kids, who are now 5 and 13. The 5 year old acted up at school and beat up several kids, and when he was told that they'd call me, his cousin, he told the teacher not to call me, because I'd beat him with a belt. I did tell him that, hoping to scare him ( I hadn't done it), but the teacher reported it to Child Protective Services (ChoPo) and ChoPo investigated and cleared me and ultimately helped me get custody of the kids due to neglect and Angela's mental illness (She has attempted suicide 4 times since April... She had gastric bypass and is going crazy now that she can't turn to food). Angela and Paul (kids' father and my cousin) ultimately agreed to sign the kids over to the state, and ChoPo left them with me as their guardian.

    I have no real idea what's going on. I attended the dependency hearing only because the 13 year old was required to attend the hearing with a lawyer, and people asked a lot of info, and I was able to give Angela's lawyer real insight to her behavior, but in the end, all I know is I (thankfully) have legal custody of the kids, but we have a few more hearings to go through. Tuesday's hearing was about the 72-hour placement of the children, which is funny since they've been living with me since they moved to Seattle in 2010. Next there is a "shelter care" hearing, followed by a "pre-trial conference" and then finally a "fact finding" hearing. Angela has to be supervised (once she gets out of the psych ward for a her last attempt) in her twice-weekly visitations, and luckily, she cannot come to my house for any reason, so the visits must take place elsewhere.

    What does this mean for me and the kids? Is this a temporary situation? The 13 year old's lawyer called them wards of the state, and referred to them as being "in the system" so are they foster kids now? Why are they having multiple hearings over the same issue, placement of the kids? I mean if Angela was in the psych ward the day of the hearing, and ChoPo put her on supervised visitation, surely they can't be thinking of giving the kids back to her in a month or so? She doesn't even have anywhere to live now... Angela attacked her girlfriend and broke the windshield of her car, who threw her out... prompting another suicide attempt...

    I'm looking at the court paperwork, and it says that this was the Shelter Care Hearing, so... I'm unclear that the next hearing will be about.. possibly the Pre-trial conference, but what does it mean to have the state place these kids with me in terms of what I can do? If I go to Vancouver, CA for the day, is that a big deal? If I wanted to move to Portland, Or next year, could I take the kids or would they belong to the state? I get TANF for food and medical benefits for the kids, I have since Angela left months ago, is this something I should stop getting? It would be quite expensive since the 13 year old has braces now...

    I'm clueless, but since all I really have to do is take care of the kids, my lack of knowledge is unimportant, but what does it all mean in terms of the custody of them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Have Custody of My Cousins, Now What

    You really need to be hiring a Family Law attorney to guide you through this process. You will want to file for legal guardianship of the children.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Have Custody of My Cousins, Now What

    But I already have that.. that's what the hearings are for, no? I mean, the state has placed them with me, does't that mean I have legal guardianship of them already, or will after the final hearing in a month?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Have Custody of My Cousins, Now What

    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    View Post
    Angela and Paul (kids' father and my cousin) ultimately agreed to sign the kids over to the state, and ChoPo left them with me as their guardian.
    So this isn't a voluntary placement or traditional guardianship, but is an in-family placement of children who are wards of the state due to parental neglect.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    Tuesday's hearing was about the 72-hour placement of the children, which is funny since they've been living with me since they moved to Seattle in 2010.
    The 72-hour hearing is the first hearing held after a child is placed in the custody of DFCS. It must normally occur within three business days, hence the name.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    Next there is a "shelter care" hearing, followed by a "pre-trial conference" and then finally a "fact finding" hearing. Angela has to be supervised (once she gets out of the psych ward for a her last attempt) in her twice-weekly visitations, and luckily, she cannot come to my house for any reason, so the visits must take place elsewhere.

    What does this mean for me and the kids? Is this a temporary situation?
    It's standard protective proceedings-type stuff. The parents are put on a plan of corrective action and, depending upon their compliance, can exercise visitation and potentially regain custody.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    The 13 year old's lawyer called them wards of the state, and referred to them as being "in the system" so are they foster kids now?
    It's an in-family placement. I am not in a position to tell you if, in association with that, you qualified as a foster parent and received the children in that capacity, although I expect you would know if you took those steps.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    Why are they having multiple hearings over the same issue, placement of the kids? I mean if Angela was in the psych ward the day of the hearing, and ChoPo put her on supervised visitation, surely they can't be thinking of giving the kids back to her in a month or so?
    They're going to monitor the parents and their progress (or lack thereof) and act accordingly. In most states, once the initial placement process is complete, either with the parents' consent to the state's petition or following a judicial finding that the children were properly removed, the court will revisit the matter every three months, and starting around the six month mark it will start to become clear whether the case is likely to progress toward reunification or if, once the one year anniversary is reached, the court will have to consider terminating the parents' rights.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    what does it mean to have the state place these kids with me in terms of what I can do? If I go to Vancouver, CA for the day, is that a big deal?
    Talk to their case worker. I expect you'll be told that you can travel within the state, but that if you want to take the children across state lines you must get court approval. When a child is placed by protective services, often they will take care of petitioning for that order on your behalf.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    If I wanted to move to Portland, Or next year, could I take the kids or would they belong to the state?
    It depends on what happens between now and then - but assuming the parents still have their rights, I would expect not.
    Quote Quoting SaveTheKids
    I get TANF for food and medical benefits for the kids, I have since Angela left months ago, is this something I should stop getting?
    We cannot investigate that for you. The children's case worker may be able to advise you, as may the state agencies issuing the benefits. However, your family's income would not normally be applied when determining the benefits available to a child who has been placed through DSS - otherwise, when they placed kids in foster care, the foster family's income would cause loss of benefits such as Medicaid with nothing else available to fill in that gap.

    The children's case worker should be helping you with these issues, if you ask.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Have Custody of My Cousins, Now What

    Your name says it all! Thank you so much for the info...

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Retail Fraud / Shoplifting: Teenage Cousins Caught Stealing
    By Britneymare in forum Criminal Charges
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-26-2012, 11:12 AM
  2. Guardianship: How to Get Temporary Custody of My Cousins
    By SaveTheKids in forum Disability and Elder Law
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-03-2012, 01:44 PM
  3. Guardianship: Uncle in Jail, Guardianship for Teen Cousins
    By deslandres in forum Disability and Elder Law
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-28-2009, 03:12 AM
  4. Cousins Fighting Over Cousin's Kids
    By ramona1972 in forum Juvenile Law
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-17-2008, 08:25 PM
  5. Child Abuse: How to get my cousins out of abusive and dysfunctional home
    By ashleydn in forum Abuse and Neglect
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-15-2006, 04:50 PM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources