Can I get child custody of my younger sister? 11 Answers as of May 24, 2011

I am trying to get custody of my younger sister. Both of my parents work and they are not at home most of the time. My sisters are "homeschooled" and go for days without social interaction. My sisters get into physical fights, and I am concerned for their safety. Also my younger sister is depressed and has been talking about suicide. My parents have done nothing about it; in fact, they are in England for two weeks on vacation. I am 22 and a teacher and know that I could provide a better home environment for my sister. I have heard that when a child turns 14 she can decide whom she lives with. Would I be able to get custody of her when she turns 14 even if my parents try to fight it?

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Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
It would be difficult, and there is no minimum age that the child gets to decide where to live. Having said that, the courts look to the child's best interest, and the older the child, the better the child can articulate her wants and reasoning. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/24/2011
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
Very difficult, you can try a guardianship but you will need an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/23/2011
Glenn E. Tanner
Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
Children never get decide where they live. They are children.To get custody, you would have to prove both of your parents are unfit. Given that they raised you,your proof would also seem to condemn you to a certain extent. Or your success would seem to counter your arguments about their incompetence. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/20/2011
Seattle Divorce Services
Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
Under Washington law children are not free to decide where they will live until they are 18. However, you could file for non-parental custody. If possible I would suggest seeing if you can work out a voluntary change of custody with your parents before filing a court action, as bringing a court action against your parents will have major family consequences for years to come.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/20/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
In Minnesota, the standard for obtaining third party custody are very difficult. The child must have lived with you in a parent-child like relationship in most cases. Moreover, where the parents are not deemed unfit, a court is unlikely to take children away from a suitable parent.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 5/20/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Your best bet under the circumstances would be to seek guardianship of the children through the Probate Court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    In Washington State, you can commence a nonparental/third party custody action. As to when a child can decide where to live-not until 18.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    Let's assume this is in Oregon for all purposes. This is fascinating. Two weeks in England and the children are left at home. Have you called DHS, the police? Are you going over there to make sure they are ok? You say you have younger sisters but I don't know their ages. This type of situation is very difficult and much too complex to for a simple answer. You need to call and talk with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    First off, the rumor that a child can decide who they want to live with at 14 is false. Also, as a non-parent, you cannot obtain custody of a child. What you can apply for is guardianship. This allows your sister(s) to live with you and you have legal responsibility for them. The services of an experienced guardianship attorney are strongly recommended.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    No. Without your parents consent there is no way for you to seek custody (what Colo now calls the allocation of parental responsibilities) or guardianship because, using legal terminology, you do not have "standing" to seek control of your sister. A minor cannot decide where she lives until she is an adult, age 18. In connection with any judicial decision process, however, a child's wishes will be considered and the older the child, the more credible her opinion will be. If you believe your sister being abused or neglected, you can contact the Child Protective Services division of the Department of Human Services. If after investigation the CPS concludes that there is grounds for your concern, it would be possible for a juvenile court to remove her from the home and place her in your custody. That is likely a very last resort because the CPS primary goal would be to force your parents to change their ways and only if they failed to do so would they consider removing her.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Your intentions certainly sound admirable however you cannot commence such an action, there is no such age at which a child's preferences will prevail (although it is a factor) and the presumption in the law is that the parents are the best custodians. Here is a link you may find helpful: http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/ChildCustody/childcustody .htm#sec_2
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/19/2011
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