How can I get custody of my ex-girlfriend's daughter? 4 Answers as of April 03, 2013

My girlfriend and I dated for about two years, raising her daughter together since she was three months-old. The most stable home the child had was the year she lived with me, the suspected (and most likely) father has been incarcerated her whole life and is not on the birth certificate. She called me, "Dad" and learned most when under my supervision. The mother, 22, has no college education whatsoever, and has not had a stable job or life for more than a few months at a time. She still parties, smokes, gambles, drinks, and gets tattoos rather than take care of her daughter. Both had to move to Florida about nine months ago (out of my control), but I still keep in touch with them. I have even considered relocating to Florida to try and make this a more realistic possibility. The child is now living with her biological grandmother because the mother is moving and can't handle everything. The child has had six homes in the last three years. I am a 24-year-old college graduate and have held my current job for about two years. I come from a loving family who is willing to provide any help needed. I know this is a multi-mile long shot, but is there anything I can do to gain custody of this beautiful girl? (Even if the mother signs over custody, etc... anything) I am willing to do whatever it takes. Thank you.

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Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
The only thing you can do is file for guardianship in probate court.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 4/3/2013
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
You are right to want to move to Florida and stay in her life and if the parents are not capable of provididng a safe drug free environment the child protective agencies may come to a decision that the child needs to live in a better environment and then you can offfer yourself as an alternative since the child knows you and calls you Dad. This is a longshot but at the very least you should stay involved in her life and try to be a friend to the mother because if you have an adveserial relationship with her it could jeapordize your chances of being in the childs life . God Bless you
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 4/3/2013
Ronald Main & Associates | Tracian M. Laignel
You are correct, this is a long shot. First off, the jurisdiction, or the court that will hear the custody issue, will be a Florida court. I can only tell you about Oklahoma custody laws. In Oklahoma you could try to adopt the child and have both parents' rights severed. This is one steep hurdle to get over. The rule of thumb the courts in Oklahoma use is the "best interet of the child." In other words, is it in the best interest of the child to sever the biological mother and father's rights to their child and allow you to adopt her. Additionally, if there are grandparents involved, which you stated there was a grandmother, the court may not allow you to adopt her and rather look to see if the biological grandmother would want custody. My suggestion is perhaps contacting a Legal Aid Clinic in Florida and asking them some questions regarding adoption and tell them the exact circumstances. You will want to search for the county where the child resides as well. Have that information when you contact the free legal clinic. In the meantime, speak with the biological mother and see if you can have some sort of visitation with the girl so you maintain a relationship with the child. Depending on how things go, retain local counsel in the county where the child resides in Florida and seek adoption of the child.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 4/2/2013
John Russo | John Russo
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 4/2/2013
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