What are my rights to my children if I only have temporary custody without going to court?
- Parental Rights
- State: CA #7921
I fled from an abusive husband with our two children, ages 4 and 12. We went to a womans shelter and he went to state prison. After the womans shelter we were homeless in our car for two months. With no family support I phoned a couple who lives in Washington state just to vent. This couple had adopted a child my husband and I had almost eighteen years ago. We've always stayed in contact. It has been very open and a non threatening relationship. They offered to come get my two children so they could be in a more stable home while I try to get on my feet. They drew up a form (not through the courts) of "special power of attorney/temporary gaurdianship." We signed and it was notorized. This family, although loving, is now stating they will not willingly give my children back to me untill they feel I meet their requirements to take care of them. I'm in California and have a place to live, even though it is not mine. I'm no longer homeless and miss my children terribly. They do not allow my kids to write or phone me. It's difficult for me to call with no long distance service, no cell phone and they will not accept collect calls. I appreciate what they have done for my children. It was a hard decision to allow them to go to another state without me. I knew it would be best for them at the time. I sent a letter to the temp parents stating that I'm not abandoning my children and to allow my kids to call me if they need to speak with their mother-me. I got a letter back fromthem stating that I abandoned them the second I left them in Wa. I am shocked and hurt. They offered to "help" temporarily. Now they state my kids are happy with their family and the life they have now is better than the one I have to offer! They have been in their care for 7 months. What if any legal rights do they have? What rights do I have? Can they claim abandonment? Can they petition anything through the courts? Can't I just go and legally get my children? I don't know why they are doing this.
The following are WA statutes, or parts thereof:
Child custody motion — Affidavit required — Notice — Denial of motion — Show cause hearing.
(1) A party seeking a custody order shall submit, along with his or her motion, an affidavit declaring that the child is not in the physical custody of one of its parents or that neither parent is a suitable custodian and setting forth facts supporting the requested order. The party seeking custody shall give notice, along with a copy of the affidavit, to other parties to the proceedings, who may file opposing affidavits.
(2) The court shall deny the motion unless it finds that adequate cause for hearing the motion is established by the affidavits, in which case it shall set a date for hearing on an order to show cause why the requested order should not be granted.
Determination of custody — Child's best interests.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child.
Petition seeking termination of parent-child relationship -- Requirements.
A court may order that a petition seeking termination of the parent and child relationship be filed if the following requirements are met:
(1) The court has removed the child from his or her home pursuant to RCW 13.34.130;
(2) Termination is recommended by the supervising agency;
(3) Termination is in the best interests of the child; and
(4) Because of the existence of aggravated circumstances, reasonable efforts to unify the family are not required. Notwithstanding the existence of aggravated circumstances, reasonable efforts may be required if the court or department determines it is in the best interests of the child. In determining whether aggravated circumstances exist by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, the court shall consider one or more of the following:
(a) Conviction of the parent of rape of the child in the first, second, or third degree as defined in RCW 9A.44.073, 9A.44.076, and 9A.44.079;
(b) Conviction of the parent of criminal mistreatment of the child in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.42.020 and 9A.42.030;
(c) Conviction of the parent of one of the following assault crimes, when the child is the victim: Assault in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.011 and 9A.36.021 or assault of a child in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.120 or 9A.36.130;
(d) Conviction of the parent of murder, manslaughter, or homicide by abuse of the child's other parent, sibling, or another child;
(e) Conviction of the parent of attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit a crime listed in (a), (b), (c), or (d) of this subsection;
(f) A finding by a court that a parent is a sexually violent predator as defined in RCW 71.09.020;
(g) Failure of the parent to complete available treatment ordered under this chapter or the equivalent laws of another state, where such failure has resulted in a prior termination of parental rights to another child and the parent has failed to effect significant change in the interim. In the case of a parent of an Indian child, as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act, P.L. 95-608 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1903), the court shall also consider tribal efforts to assist the parent in completing treatment and make it possible for the child to return home;
(h) An infant under three years of age has been abandoned;
(i) Conviction of the parent, when a child has been born of the offense, of: (A) A sex offense under chapter 9A.44 RCW; or (B) incest under RCW 9A.64.020.
[2000 c 122 § 16.]
For purposes of this chapter:
(1) "Abandoned" means when the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian has expressed, either by statement or conduct, an intent to forego, for an extended period, parental rights or responsibilities despite an ability to exercise such rights and responsibilities. If the court finds that the petitioner has exercised due diligence in attempting to locate the parent, no contact between the child and the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian for a period of three months creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment, even if there is no expressed intent to abandon.
The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Abandoned" means left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.
Order terminating parent and child relationship -- Findings.
After hearings pursuant to RCW 13.34.110 or 13.34.130, the court may enter an order terminating all parental rights to a child only if the court finds that:
(1)(a) The allegations contained in the petition as provided in RCW 13.34.180(1) are established by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence; or
(b) The provisions of RCW 13.34.180(1) (a), (b), (e), and (f) are established beyond a reasonable doubt and if so, then RCW 13.34.180(1) (c) and (d) may be waived. When an infant has been abandoned, as defined in RCW 13.34.030, and the abandonment has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then RCW 13.34.180(1) (c) and (d) may be waived; or
(c) The allegation under RCW 13.34.180(2) is established beyond a reasonable doubt. In determining whether RCW 13.34.180(1) (e) and (f) are established beyond a reasonable doubt, the court shall consider whether one or more of the aggravated circumstances listed in RCW 13.34.132 exist; or
(d) The allegation under RCW 13.34.180(3) is established beyond a reasonable doubt; and
(2) Such an order is in the best interests of the child.
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08/13/2007 - Category: Parental Rights - State: CA #7921
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