Fighting for custody of a child in foster care

Question:

My nephew just found out through a DNA test that he is the father of a child who is now in foster care. The child is 10 months old and was put in foster care about 6 months ago. How does he go about getting custody of his daughter. Also, the mother of the child is a complete mess. Did she give up her parental rights when the daughter entered foster care? If not, how long does the mother of a child have to get her act together before the state will permanently terminate parental rights?

 
Answer:

You should contact an attorney licensed in your state as each state has different provisions which control custody and placement of children.  I do not practice in Missouri.  However, Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Missouri who may be able to help.

If the child is in foster care, the Court probably ordered that the child to be detained from the mother’s care and placed the child in temporary foster care while the Court addresses the issues which lead to the Court detaining the child.  In my jurisdiction, the Children’s Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over the custody and placement of the child while the case is pending.  This means that your son could not go to the family courts to modify the current custody and placement arrangement until after the case is over at which point the child has already been returned to the mother.  Therefore, the only thing your son could do would be to actively involve himself in the Children’s Court matter and pursue visitation and placement through the social worker.    However, Missouri could be completely different. In addition, each state has different statutes and supporting case law which dictate when the Court can terminate her rights.  As such, you should contact a Missouri attorney to find out what his rights and options are in your jurisdiction.

 

 

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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