If temporary guardianship was given to the grandparents because the mother is unable to care for the child, can the father get custody?
Paternity has been established. The father wasn’t told he had said child until the kid was 4 years old, but the father has been in the child’s life for over 4 years now.
Though I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, Cordell & Cordell does have an office in Indiana, and I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state because I can only give you general information. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship, and you should seek counsel in your area for further instructions and suggestions within the parameters of the laws of your state.
That being said, there are common themes in child custody and visitation among states, one of which is that a father’s rights in a paternity case are usually defined in the order establishing paternity. Michigan courts call this order a “filiation order,” but your particular court may have titled it something else. Consult your order to determine what rights, if any, you have to custody and visitation. You should also consult the order that placed the child with the grandparents. That order will also define what rights, if any, you have to custody and visitation. That order will also define the extent of the guardianship – is it a consensual placement that will terminate when the mother fulfills some type of parenting plan, or is it a court-supervised placement that will only terminate if she files a motion and proves termination is in the child’s best interests?
Assuming you were adjudicated the natural and legal father and have custodial rights (i.e., your rights were not terminated), under federal law you do have rights on which to request custody, and states may afford greater rights. Your federal rights include the right to notice of child abuse and neglect proceedings, notice of proceedings affecting the child and the right to be presumed fit to parent the child over a third party.
However, the court may decide that the child’s best interests require a third party custodial arrangement (i.e., custody, though a guardianship, with the grandparents). Only an attorney in your state who can view your paperwork can advise you of what options, if any, you can or should pursue.
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.