I’m 18 and Living with an Abusive Parent, If I Leave can I Take my Younger Siblings with me?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“I am 18 years old and live with my mother and younger siblings. My father died earlier in the year and he was our primary caregiver. My mother has never been there for us. She was always off doing her own thing. Drugs and Alcohol. She left me and 2 younger siblings home alone at night when I was six and I and one younger sibling have lived with my father ever since the other sibling went to his grandparents. Then she had another child born on cocaine. This child she lost custody of and he went to live with our Aunt. My father got custody of him when he was about a year old and the court papers say that we are not to be alone with my mother. She was to have supervised visits. Well my father let her move back about 5 or 6 years ago and bring another sibling with her. Now my father is dead and we are living with this woman that screams at us all the time. I don’t want to leave and leave them with her. I would like to take at least 2 brothers with me. Ages 16 (3/07) and a 9 year old that she screams at all the time. Is there any way I can get custody of them. They get Social Security from my dad passing but the Social Security office has it go to my aunt can she give it to me if they are with me.”You, of course, can leave any time you want, but you are frightened for your siblings. First find out whether you are legally allowed to adopt in your state (age requirement [21?], financial resources, living environment, etc.). You have some setting up to do, in any case. As with any adoption there is going to have to be a termination of your mother’s parental rights. Depending on where you live, she can either voluntarily seek this, or it can be sought by a governmental agency (like child protectve services) or a mandatory reporter of abuse (therapist, teacher, etc.).

Question: Your 16 year old brother may be old enough to emancipate if he satisfies the requirements of your home state. This might get you around the termination of parental rights aspect for him.If the SS money is going to your aunt does she have court ordered custody? If so, you and she could team up to get all three of you to safety – or at least her home.
For next steps, google “relative adoption” and the name of your state. Find out which state agencies are involved and ask as many questions as you can on every 800 number they have.