How to get custody of your stepchild so you know they are safe?

Amber - posted on 12/09/2009 ( 24 moms have responded )

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My husband has a daughter with someone who is not fit to be a parent. When his daughter was just 7 months old her mother was yelling at her to shut up and slapped her face hard enough to make her cry even though she was just making noise to get attention because she wanted someone to play with her. Her mother would put her to bed around 11pm and would leave her in the same diaper until about 11 or 12 the next morning even though she woke up 2 to 3 times a night. She has a very active bladder so when she would pee it would be a good amount and when her mother would finally change her in the morning she had peed so much that she had soaked her clothes and the bedding. Her mother would make 3 bottles of formula and have them sitting next to the bed and when she would wake up her mother would grab one of those bottles and feed it to her without even bothering to get out of bed, yes my husband's daughter sleeps in the same bed as her mother. Now she is almost a year and a half old and is almost always sick and has been taken to the emergency room at least once a month for the last 5 months. She hit her head on concrete because she was trying to pick up something and her mother saw what was about to happen and did nothing to stop it., then the next month her mother had unbuckled her from her carseat but was not ready to grab her from the vehicle so what ended up happening was that she jumped from the vehicle and hit her head on the concrete hard enough to get a concussion. She is almost always sick with ear infections or really nasty chest colds. The last time we picked her up it was freezing outside and she did not have any socks or shoes on her feet. What should her father and I go about trying to get custody of his daughter so that we know she is safe and gets the proper care that she should have been getting all along??

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Peta - posted on 12/10/2009

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I personally think you have to proceed with caution in this matter. The mother maybe going through post natal depression or the birth may have triggered a number of medical issues for her. The mother sounds like she needs help and maybe you and your husband can get that for her. Instead of becoming the enemies in her eyes maybe you should be her support. It is most important that a child has a relationship with their biological mother and father.I am a step parent and have gone through a very difficult time with my partners ex wife with a number of very hard issues so I empathise. I also have a daughter who is 18 months who has been quite sick regularly with chest infections and other things as it is common for kids at that age to get sick regularly. I really think you and your husband need to turn this situation around but in a positive way and if you give that a go and it does not work then look at gaining custody but with visitation rights for the mum,don't cut her out completely. You could set an example to this child of how people could work together rather than against each other.

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I would look into the laws in your county and see about getting her a law gardian. but i think you have to go to family court first and request a law gardian for her and they will look into the welfare of the child and are there for the child only. Good luck I hope this helps

Lori - posted on 12/23/2009

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I don't want to sound harsh, but what kind of sicko is she? Who would do this to an innocent child? I hope to God, through Christmas and all, this child is placed in a safe environment (be it with you or elsewhere) and that the mother gets the help she desperately needs. I don't know the circumstances and I hate judging anything based on hearsay, but far too often, children suffer or even die as a result of citizens not wanting to recognize a problem. Every child deserves to live painfree, in comfort and warmth, surrounded by people who love them, and I hope after having gone through whatever process is needed, you and your husband can take this child home and provide her with all of these things. Good luck, and don't bash her, she obviously needs help, and fast. I'm sure with a little coaxing, she will admit this to herself and if she loves this child enough, she will seek it out. I wish the laws were simple and I wish that it were easy for you and for her, but unfortunately it's a waiting game and the win will eventually go to the person seeking the best interest of this child. Please continue the steps to remove this little girl from the pain she is enduring, as long as she is still alive there is always hope. God bless!

Denise - posted on 12/22/2009

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i would call child services and let them help you get custody of his daughter. it might also help to have an attorney to get custody of her. depending on where you live, whether or not the courts will side with the mother or not. good luck with trying to get custody of his daughter.

Amber - posted on 12/22/2009

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Just the other night we received a phone call from the grandmother of my stepdaughter and she told my husband that they were admitting his daughter to the hospital because she got into some pills. She took a couple of Ultram, its the brand name of the generic pill Tramadol. When he called the hospital to talk to the nurse who was on duty with his daughter that night she said that Social Servies was being called the next morning because her doctors were noticing that she was in there too often. Well the next morning I called Social Services where I live and she called down to make sure that a report was being filed, later that afternoon she called me back to tell me that S.S. in the hospital was not going to do anything about what happened. She then proceeded to tell me to call S.S. where she lives and talk to someone on child protection and inform them of everything that has been going on.

Carol - posted on 12/19/2009

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regarding an attorney, and I don't want to sound negative, but maybe I will be, lets see.
I agree with all of the documentation, there are some things you cannot document, like where she sleeps, unless you have seen it or how she wakes up--wet/dry--unless you see it yourself. Attorneys are not likely to ''fight for you'' as they do on television and don't expect justice. also the most compelling things she does sound like psychological abuse and neglect and those are extremely hard to prove. neighbors and child care and doctors are all your best bets, make sure they are willing to be involved as many many many are not. if she has never been investigated, and these things are going on, then you already have a hard case to win, because there are so many in the lives of htis little girl who won't get involved, sorry to say. I am a mom and have been a foster mom, neglect is pretty hard to prove. it hast to go on for, unfortunately a long period, and has to be extreme. One of my daughters friends has a little sister. she was 5 years old, she ran around our small town dirty and ate at other peoples houses and knew every swear word imaginable, she had a curfew of 10pm and she had a coat and boots at home, all be it small and filthy, and the mother met the legal limits apparently to avoid neglect charges. You have to have an extremely good case. is there any way to bargain with her regarding where the child lives? or what visitation can happen? I have also fought for my own children against their father, using documentation and pictures and affidavits and witnesses and was not successful, he just made things worse for the girls by psychologically and emotionally torturing them more. One has passed away and the other sees him, well, she will until she is 18 cause she has to. she has told me that she wishes i would have taken her and her sister to where he could never find us. you can talk to your county attorney and ask for pointers, call and ask your local social workers what they need, maybe you can ask for a CASA to help this child if there is a parenting plan in place...do everything except provoke this mom to do further damage to the child. give in to her demands to make things easier on the child until you can get her out of there. I hope you are successful for this child's sake.

Rosie - posted on 12/19/2009

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document everything, take pictures and video of everything that she does. being sick doesn't necessarily make the mother a bad mother, but all of the other stuff is ridiculous. get a lawyer immediately and figure out what things you need to do in your state. if she is not physically harming this child,i believe it is very hard to get full custody, but at least you could try to get joint or primary custody with the mother only getting some visitation. hope all goes well for you!

Felica - posted on 12/11/2009

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I don't know if you can call CPS (child protective services).on her or not, but if her father really wants custody of her, he needs to get on the ball before something drastic happens. Obviously she doesn't want to give the child up because that means she won't have contact with the father. I can't stand children being hurt. I would advise you to get on the ball and start talking to someone that can lead you in the right direction. It's very rare when step-parents want to get custody of a step-child to care for.

Gaynor-Marie - posted on 12/10/2009

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I know this seems simplistic, but does the mother want custody? It sounds like she doesn't want the work and inconvienance of a child. It may be as simple as asking her to give up custody? Maybe pointing out the benefits for her more money not having to get up at night so forth. I do know a couple of people who have custody of nephews and grandchildren after the mother didn't pick them up after a sleep over.

Brittany - posted on 12/10/2009

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we are in the process of getting sole custody of my step son. his mother has 4 children and another on the way, and was abusing the oldest 3 when my step son (the youngest at the time) was only 6 months old. the cops were called and nothing was proved but she handed the kids over to the fathers, and has never come back for her son. it has now been well over a year. we have docmented every time she calls, when she was seeing him we documented everything from when she took him to the doctor (trying to accuse us of mistreating him) and sending him over in dirty clothes and inappropriately dressed (shorts and t shirt in 40 degree weather). in our situation it is a little different because the mother has no desire to be involved in the childs life. but you will have to get a lawyer (try to find one who works frequently with fathers). share everything with your lawyer and they should be able to help. they can get her parenting classes, and hopefully the reason she mistreats her daughter can be found. i wish you the best of luck!!!

Kathy - posted on 12/10/2009

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First thing I would do is call a family law lawyer in your area, they will know the best place to start, I'm in Canada and I know every country, state, and sometimes even region can have different procedures. Just make sure this is for real, the child could just be a sick baby, or clumsy, it might not be moms fault. I don't condone slapping a baby, but unless you saw it you legally (here anyways) can't say it happened because it becomes hearsay. Good luck!!

Kelly - posted on 12/10/2009

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this sounds like a case of child abuse.

get in and get things rolling befor its too late.
what would of happend if your step doughter had of damaged her back falling out of the car and been paralised or even fallen and landed in the wrong way and passed away.

iv viewed a few of the child abuse videos that are on facebook in causes, i will never over look brusing or unusual marks on kids ever again.

the baby p story and kelsey story.

look it up on youtube then you will know what you have to do(serch child abuse).

you need to get custody of her asap.

hope i have helped you

Crecensia - posted on 12/09/2009

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OH MY GOD!!!! what kind of mother or person is this??? Does'nt she feel anything for this child! Have you tried talking to lawyers, i believe they could help with a solution or go to social services and ask them to help. The fact that she was in hospital because of her mother's carelessness is enough for them to give you guys temporary custody and then you guys could take it from them. I really feel for this poor soul, how can any person treat their own baby like this!!!

Shevie - posted on 12/09/2009

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It is really hard to prove a mother unfit, but we did it. We went to court 3 different times. Each time lasted 18 months or more.So be ready for a long emotional ordeal. You need medical records, your husband can request them he may have to pay for copys. Keep a journal with time and dates, pictures may help. You could get CPS invalved but I be careful with that.You need to show in anyway you can that you can do it better. We had to take pictures of our home,(every room). If you do this you need all the documentation you can get. The courts will decide if it's from childs envorment or childs just a sick baby. Your in our paryers hope this help some. Good luck

Isobel - posted on 12/09/2009

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Honestly...this sounds like the bullshit my ex spewed about me...none of it was true in my case...sorry but I always question a little more than the average bear...maybe you should too.

Andrea - posted on 12/09/2009

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I know a friend of mine went through this with is son and he wrote every thing down and took pictures of his little guys arm, legs, back, belly and any where else there was a mark.. he also got the record from the doctor's and he call dhs and the cops to let every one know what was going on.. It is a very hard thing to prove a mother unfit, but it can be done you just have to be willing to put it the time and man hours to insure her safety.. I would also start contacting lawyers to seek there advice.. hope this is helpful.. Best wishes to you all and take care..

Latisha - posted on 12/09/2009

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Sometimes, depending on the state you live in, it is pretty hard to take a child from their mother. But the best advice that I can honestly give you is to document EVERYTHING!!! Like get a journal and write down everything that goes on, from phone conversations, text messages, emails, what the baby looks like when you guys go and pick her up, what she's wearing, any bruses, EVERYTHING. No matter how small it may seem write it down and document it anyway, literaly no matter how small it may seem, it could end up being something VERY important.

Also talk to someone at your courts in the family division and see what they have to say, there are also hotlines that you call to find out other things, but they will only be so helpful because they can only give/tell you so much, and than find a lawyer that is 1 good enough and 2 hopefully specializes in child custody cases and see what they have to say about everything. but honestly definately start documenting everything because then that way you have at least some ground to stand on, and make sure when you're writing, copying or printing out everything that you're documenting put the date and time on it all. You might even find it a little easier to remember everything if you keep that journal on you at all times so you don't forget anything from the time that it happens to the time that it takes for you to write it down. Well I hope at least something I have said or something somebody else has said will help you out. Good luck I really hope that you get that baby in your and your husbands care.

Theresa - posted on 12/09/2009

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I would report her to social services. They cannot tell her who made the reports. If she is in daycare the daycare provider should be reporting suspicious marks and bruises. If the mom says she fell out of the car and hit her head the day care provider should report that. It's suspicous and ad a mandatory reporter (which lisenced day care providers, teachers, etc all are) you don't get to make the decision if you think what happened was alright or not, you just have to report. Social services will look into things. If they feel the child needs to be removed from her mother (assuming the da has a least shared custody) they will put her with him, not in a foster home.

Medic - posted on 12/09/2009

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contrary to apparently some beliefs there has recently been an act passed that gives fathers a better chance at getting and retaining sole custody of thier children.....everything needs to be documented....every hospital visit...everytime yall get her dirty or not dressed for the weather....any and everything that would prove whats going on....call cps or whatever the child protective services is called where you are....avoid saying anything that you do not know to be true and if you dont know if its true say that you have reason to believe.....if yall go at this without bashing and belittling then you have a better chance.....just find a good lawyer that will work with you...or talk to the attny general

Penny - posted on 12/09/2009

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report it to the S.R.S they will make her a child in need and either give temp cus to you or her father and let them handle it from there. Document everything

Bekki - posted on 12/09/2009

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A judge's cardinal rule concerning mothers and children are to not separate the mother from the child. That is the same in every state, they will rarely ever take the child from the mother unless good reason can be proven. At this point all you have is observations and heresay. I would say your BEST bet would be.. call cps.. take photos every time you pick up the child, take video if you have to of the actual exchange. Do this for a month .. a week won't be long enough because her lawyer will simply say it was a bad week and it's not always like that.. see where i'm going with this? Call cps when the child gets to your house with an injury (dirty clothing is not considered enough for them to pull a child from the natural mother). Injury is always the best (i know that sounds bad but its true) way to get them pulled. Contact a worker at your local DCF DHS or CPS office, and have them work with you on a voluntary basis and RECORD EVERYTHING . Not tape record but visual recording of her appearance, behaviors, illnesses, injuries. After that first month file in court for custody they will ask under what basis .. you say.. "Child neglect, abuse, unfit parenting.".. The more documentation you have on your side proving your side the better and faster it will go through court. Judges want you to do the work for them pretty much. Build a compelling case and you shouldn't have many problems . but its not fast.. and its certainly not gonna be cheap you will need a lawyer

[deleted account]

You can start by getting copies of her medical records, as that is an issue to you. You can talk to her pediatrician and see if they think her incidents are normal for a child or could be due to neglect by a care giver and see if he will write a statement for the court.



Take notes EVERY TIME you pick up the child and think something is amiss, or if bio-mom calls, takes her to the drs..., note every time she is sick, you see her outside w/out proper dress...ANYTHING that you think is negative or bad parenting. If you have her every weekend or whatever your schedule is it would be a good idea to note EVERYTIME you get her what her condition is, whether she is well/sick, dressed appropriately, arrives w/all her necessary belongings for her visit, any confrontations/interactions w/bio-mom. You need to have adequate records for court, and noting all bad actions may look biased so noting ALL actions will look very thorough! Get a spiral bound note book or folder and keep it in the car, keep one by the phone...since she isn't old enough to read them I wouldn't worry about keeping them out of sight, but you might want to have a high place for them for later...

Tanya - posted on 12/09/2009

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He needs to have a custody hearing and file for sole custody of her with supervised visits with the mom (if any). You might have to get CPS involved. Or if you know any other witnesses to this neglect they can sign an affidavit stating what they saw and you can do the same.

[deleted account]

Honestly. The family law rules vary by state/province/country. Giving advice would be highly difficult.



I suggest you look into the laws that govern over your state/place of residence. It is very difficult to change the status quo without first creating grounds for a motion to vary. The law system is designed to reduce repeating litigants. If you went to court with a motion without solid affidavits of evidentiary material, you could worsen your overall position.



If you honestly feel threatened for the safety of the step-child, call CAS or whatever child protection agency that exists. But only if. If you call in an unsubstantiated report, it reduces your ability to come across as a reliable and valid citizen.



Good luck. I hope all works out for the best in regards to your step-child.

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