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  1. #1

    Default What is Legal in This Guardianship Case

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

    This all started May 5th of 2018 when my fraternal twin daughters were born. They were 10 weeks early so they had to stay in the NICU for a month and a half. DHS (Child Protective Services) was called on my fiance and I for neglect allegations. The first allegations were found false and ruled unsubstantiated.

    During the time our daughters were in the NICU and after they came home, several anonymous DHS calls were made accusing us of more neglect allegations. Again, everything was ruled unsubstantiated and we were mailed the findings reports. We were each reported over 10 times for things we did not do.

    I was a stay at home mom. My fiance worked full time and overtime just so we could make rent and bills. I was receiving WIC and SNAP benefits in order to care for my daughters so we could afford food and things we needed. Our financial situation took a turn for the worst when we recieved a 5 day eviction notice.

    We contacted people we thought could help us, even my fiances parents. They all said no.

    I ended up contacting my biological mom and her husband in Carlsbad, New Mexico and asking them if we could move down there until we made enough money to get up on our feet and figure out how to come back down to Oklahoma once we were stable. They agreed.

    When we moved in, things were fine at first. After a few months of living with them, CYFD (Children, Youth, & Families Department) were called anonymously for more false accusations. This time, it was abuse allegations.

    The first time the case was immediately closed because it was ruled unsubstantiated and nothing was founded. The second time they were called, my mom and and her husband decided to kick my fiance out of the house because they accused him of calling. My mom also became emotionally, mentally, and verbally abusive in the household as well, and I started to record video and audio evidence of her behavior around myself and my daughters.

    When my mom and her husband got the eviction notice for my fiance, I immediately contacted our social worker asking what we should do. She basically said there was nothing that could be done and said our daughters were safe in the home.

    After the second case was closed, a few weeks to about a month later in October/November there was a third phone call. There were allegations of physical abuse this time.

    A supervisor from the department came to the home and interviewed me, my mom, her husband, and then my fiance. He even took pictures of my daughters since there were obviously no physical marks on them.

    My fiance and I told him everything that was going on in the household including my mom's abusive behavior. We told the supervisor we recorded her secretly so we would hopefully be believed and we could recieve some help.

    Our supervisor told us to send him the evidence through his email, which I did the night after he left. A week later he told us to come into a meeting in his office with just me and my fiance.

    When I had asked him about what he thought about the evidence I emailed him, he said he saw no concern. He said that my mom was free to do what she wanted to do and say in the household. He also said that since we were being 100% cooperative during all the investigations and doing what we were asked of us, he said that since we seemed to be having trouble that we could give my fiance's parents Power Of Attorney. He said that it was not Guardianship or full custody. We were told that it would be temporary until we got stable and then we could get our girls back.

    The next day we had a meeting and my fiances dad joined in over the phone. We all agreed to give his parents Power Of Attorney and signed the paperwork and agreed to a safety plan.

    The next morning I left my mom's house and my fiance picked me up with all my belongings because I could not take her abusive behavior anymore.

    We took all our daughters stuff with us and brought them down to Edmond, Oklahoma where we dropped out girls off with my fiance's parents. After seeing the girls one last time before we headed back down to New Mexico to do the services CYFD wanted us to do and since my fiance had a full time job down there so we could save money, we decided to temporarily live there until we figured out our finances. My fiance's father had us sign this paperwork that looked like an affidavit, but he said that it was to "enforce" the Power Of Attorney that we gave them. We believed we were doing the right thing, so after that we headed back down to New Mexico to do the agreed counseling services.

    We only got to do one counseling session before we even got to recieve any more help since my fiance got laid off. We decided to take his last paycheck and move back down to Oklahoma. On our way down, we contacted his parents to let them know we wanted to be closer our daughters. His father responds and says they have100% legal and physical custody and he gave us a guardianship court order signed by the judge. He says that if we complied with what him and he wife wanted from us and if we did what the judge asked us to do, we could have our daughters back. In the meantime we would get supervised visits and that was it.

    We were confused since we did not consent to Guardianship nor were we under the impression that his parents would get full custody since we only gave them Power Of Attorney.

    We were actually homeless for a temporary time and lived in his car until he started working for a new electrical company and a co-worker let us stay with her until we got things figured out. I had found out after I got back on medicaid that I was almost 7 months pregnant with a baby boy. I had no pregnancy symptoms and I barely gained any weight. I had also taken several over the counter pregnancy tests which all came out negative, and I was told that it was normal to not have a period for over a year after giving birth.

    I immediately got prenatal care and my pregnancy was fine. My baby boy was healthy.

    When my fiances parents found out about my pregnancy, they told my fiance and I to get rid of our son or else DHS would remove him if we didn't give him up for adoption. They also claimed that our daughters were "taken" as well due to reasons they did not even tell us.

    We had found out his parents did not tell us of previous court dates that we were supposed to attend, including review hearings.

    We struggled to do supervised visitation and had previously asked his parents to work around our schedule and sometimes they refused to do so. We only had approximately 4 or more visits before they randomly stopped. We had asked to see our girls for several weeks before his father told us that the judge suspended our visitations and said we would be sent paperwork and legal documents which we did not even recieve.

    We finally got our own apartment and on April 18th, I gave birth to my son. DHS was called on us and the allegations were that I had used drugs and alcohol during my pregnancy and that there was a concern that our daughters weren't in our custody. We told DHS everything and showed them documents and proof that nothing ever happened and that his parents did not properly inform us of anything nor did they inform us that they filed for guardianship. For months we missed court dates while we were trying to fix our financial situation.

    DHS told us they saw no reason to remove our son and said it was up to the judge if he wanted to remove our son or not. They also obtained the negative drug test from the hospital I gave birth in when they tested my son's umbilical cord. We already know that his parents are the ones who made those allegations against us.

    DHS has done home checks and said they will help us get services done so we can prove to the judge that we want our girls back. We got supervised visitation set up again so we see our girls once a week for two hours.

    His father has also claimed that where we live isn't safe and due to his knowledge of being a police officer, he has told us he would not come near our apartment without his gun on him. DHS has cleared that even though we are low income and don't have much, our son is properly taken care of and they see nothing wrong but they have reminded us that it is up to the judge. So far the judge has not removed our son and we have only attended one court date which was May 1st over getting visits set up again.

    We have tried to reach out to legal aid for help with a lawyer but we were turned down. We don't have much money and we don't know what is legal and what isn't in this case. We have copies of everything we have signed and copies proving that none of the CPS reports were true. We don't know who to turn to for help

    Our last court date was on my birthday, July 23rd. My fiance's parents hired an attorney and we showed their attorney the power of attorney paperwork and showed the judge. It was obvious the judge knew nothing of our situation and his parents basically denied everything.

    The judge gave us 6 more months to take 2 hair follicle drug tests, we have to get a mental health evaluation, and according to the judge I am not allowed to be a stay at home mom. He said I have to be married. We can't afford daycare or a sitter for our son so I feel like I have no choice but to stay home.

    We don't know what to do. We don't have money to pay for the services and we have gotten denied and turned away by some of the approved services the judge gave us a list for. They said we make too much money and we can't recieve help. We are trying to look into other services that can possibly count towards our requirements but we are struggling since we have rent and bills to pay.

    I was told that the judge can't get confidential information unless we sign a release of information or that we get an attorney which we don't have and can't afford. We don't even know how to submit proof to the judge through the courthouse that we are trying.

    Yesterday we also got a court summons for a child support hearing in about 6 months. It was signed off by the DHS Child Support enforcing supervisor. My fiance and I are not married and our daughters do not visit with us so we have them zero percent of the time. I understand if the judge says we have to pay it, we will do our best. I am not understanding if the judge told us to do services and he wanted nothing changed, why are there being changes now? We also pay money to see our daughters once a week. We arent allowed to take pictures since visitation locks up our phone. We pay $30 right now for 1 hour at a place called "The Childs Time". I feel like we are being treated like criminals.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,324

    Default Re: What is Legal in This Guardianship Case

    It sounds like you have been through a lot. But did you have a question you would like answered? If the question is "what is legal in this guardianship case" I would have to say all is legal as the courts have done it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    245

    Default Re: What is Legal in This Guardianship Case

    It is indeed possible for you both to work and not have to pay for child care You work different shifts. So you parents do not get to see each other very often. That is the price you must pay for having children without being financially stable. Check on subsidized child care.

    You are not being treated like criminals. When there is any doubt, the judges will err on the side of caution, You must admit that your situation causes concern. Do what is required. Be proactive in checking on court dates and what is likely to be required of you in the future. Many OK cases can be found at: http://www.oscn.net/dockets/Search.aspx

    Why have you not gotten married after all you have 3 children together? Consider whether this is part of the issue with your sets of parents. I expect they are disappointed in the way you have chosen to live your lives and are using your daughters as a way to try to get you on a different path. It is not "right" but it is understandable.

    There are programs based on ability to pay. Since your daughters were premies, are they receiving government financial aid or special educational services at this time? Check on parent programs for children with special needs if the circumstances indicate your daughters may have long tern effects from their prematurity.

    Unfortunately, the foster care system in OK is overloaded with too many children and too few foster parents. Given a situation you describe, your daughters would have been better served to be placed outside a warring family, IMO, but they are at least in a place assumed to be safe.

    I am unfamiliar with the resources in the OKC area but am sure their are some like in NE OK which are affordable to even low income families. Unfortunately, it appears you have alienated your best sources of financial assistance - your and his parents.

    Don't make excuses. Do what is necessary. Keep looking for resources. Check out you local law school's legal clinic (different from Legal Aid) to see if this is a case of interest to them. And, both of you should be looking to improve your job skills.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    3,042

    Default Re: What is Legal in This Guardianship Case

    If you are being turned down for income based services due to your income. You need to look at how you are spending your money. You might need to move to a cheaper apartment. Perhaps sell one or both of your vehicles and take public transportation. You may not like a cheaper place or taking public transportation. But when ypu have children you have to sacrifice.

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