What Are My Financial Obligations if My Parents Have Taken My Child From Me

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“I live in the state of CA., county of San Bernardino. Brief history: My daughter “M” (17-1/2 yrs. old) recently moved out and now lives full time with her grandparents (my parents), this has happened more than once over the years. There is approximately 98% no communication. The only time I receive a text (no personal, email, usps or phone contact – their choice) is to ask insurance information. I am given little to no information on my daughter’s health or anything having to do with her life. My daughter “M” is scheduled to see a psychiatrist in November. She suffered an injury (not head, physical pilondial cyst/lower back), and had complications in the ER, she was administered too strong of pain med., (she was there for pain & infection, referred by her then pediatrician) all physical test results were normal, however, due to further complications, she saw a neurologist, he has referred a psychiatrist. She “M” currently sees a therapist once a week. At one point the therapist wanted to conduct a family session. My daughter “M” has since absolutely refused and instructed me to stay away from the therapist. Due to the stress, I have made arrangements to speak with a therapist as well. I am also on two anti anxiety medications. My younger daughter ”H” (15-1/2) is also on anti anxiety and stomach stress medication, as well as a heart monitor (also believed to be stress), she too sees a therapist. My younger daughter “H”, a freshman, is shunned by my daughter “M” and her boyfriend, both seniors. This is terribly embarrassing (while at school) and stressful to my younger daughter. She misses her sister very much, we all do. When asked “why” she/”M” wanted to move out, I was given the same two responses, on different occasions, by both my daughter and my mother: 1. My daughter does not want to fight with me. My reply: For the most part, we have a very “typical” mother/daughter relationship. She and I have had a loving however, tumultuous at times, relationship for several years. The other reason: 2. Quote “this is her/my senior year. I want to have fun and be happy”! My reply:… I really haven’t one, I am besides myself. I feel as if I have been stabbed in the back and kicked in the stomach. These are the 2 reasons I have been given. And “M” admitted when asked on more than one occasion, that I do allow her to pretty much (within normal safe, responsible reason) do what she wants. I though, unlike my parents, request that the girls (son does not live at home) help with dishes and laundry and once every other week, with cleaning the house. I am not a strict person, and quite liberal (within reason). In addition, a number of years ago (approx. 2009) I allowed my mother to be the “custodial party” during a time when my daughter was back and forth. I did this for one reason. The DCSS worker explained that my mother would be allowed medical benefits (she/my mother at the time had no ins. and needed medical care) for this reason ONLY… I agreed to her becoming the “custodial party”. When my daughter moved back home, I never sought to retain the custodial party title. My daughter had lived with us for a few years and moved out slowly this summer. Approximately 2 weeks ago, I received a letter stating that my mother had acted on her “custodial party” rights. She informed DCSS that my daughter had moved out. Child support that DCSS had been collecting on my daughter’s behalf and crediting to me was stopped. It was never very much, nor consistent. It is currently over $10,000.00 in arrears. For me, this is not about the money. I am unsure the reason for my mother/daughter doing this. My husband maintains health insurance on “M” (his stepdaughter). We are also paying numerous and expensive medical bills. My question: Is it possible that DCSS will sue me for support to be paid to my parents or daughter? At this point should I see a family law facilitator or wait to see what happens? Should I have my daughter emancipated (she will be 18 in January 2013)? I had already suggested that to her when she was adamant that she could live on her own. If she does emancipate, will I be legally responsible for her until she is 18, or has graduated in June? She currently is in ROP. For her to attend the 2nd year (she will be 18 & already graduated, so she will not qualify for ROP), will I be responsible for the costs? She had told me before moving out that I would be paying for all of her additional schooling. I apologize for so many questions. I cannot afford a lawyer. And I’m just so dumbfounded by her & my mother’s actions. My family and friends have watched me slowly fall apart, physically and emotionally because of this. I am doing my best to maintain as “normally” as possible for my younger daughter. My 21 yr. old son and my younger daughter “H” have both said that I have tried for years, above and beyond, to make my daughter “M” happy, secure, and pretty much whatever she has desired (within typical reason). Many that are familiar with the situation, family and friends, have told me I need to basically “move on” since my daughter is almost 18 years old. I don’t ever want to “give up” on my daughter, I just don’t know how much more I can take, I do not know what else to expect from them, and I do not know where to draw the line. They know I am very easy to deal with and they know they can manipulate me through simple guilt. If by any chance a psychiatrist does diagnose my daughter with a condition & prescribe medication (which I have been assured he will, simply because that is his job) does this change anything from a legal standpoint? I have considered seeking guardianship, if this were the case. I truly believe and have expressed to my daughter’s therapist, that living with my parents is not in “M”’s best interest. For many reasons. I and other family members believe she/”M” has basically been led to believe things, situations, etc., that have never happened (not of a sexual or illegal) nature, but along the lines of her not being a planned/wanted pregnancy, treated unfavorably, etc.. which are completely false. At this point, I just want and need to know what my responsibilities are. I unfortunately do not see a reconciliation with my daughter, nor do I foresee a relationship with my parents.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Unfortunately, this is far too complicated a situation for us to answer here, you really need to have a consultation with an attorney in California who specialises in both family law, and the juvenile system. And you should do so soon, to ensure that you are not exposed to any undue legal risk.

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Author: House Attorney

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