What to do if I’m 20 and I have been taking care of my 3 year old sister for a month now because my mother is mentally ill and in the hospital for suicide?

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What to do if I’m 20 and I have been taking care of my 3 year old sister for a month now because my mother is mentally ill and in the hospital for suicide?

We wanted to establish guardianship so I can start taking care of my sister long term. The biological father stepped in and said he wanted to take her but I have safety concerns about her going with her father. Also, about 6 months ago he dropped my sister of at my moms doorstep and said he couldn’t take care of her anymore. So what makes it different now? I wanted to know if there was anyway I could obtain custody instead of her biological father.

Asked on January 23, 2013 under Family Law, Ohio

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You need to file a custody suit as soon as possible and seek temporary custody until the other issues get resolved (permanent custody and your mom's condition).  You would have standing to file the suit since the child has been placed with you by the mother and abandoned by the father.  Because he is the biological father, he does have a decent chance of getting her back.  However, you have some good facts on your side in that you stepped up to the role of caregiver, when it was his job first.  If you cannot get full custody, at least ask that you and your mother share custody so that you can still be legally active in your sister's life.  If he dumped her once before, he is likely to do it again-- and then you would have a second chance to seek full custody via a motion to modify.


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