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StepMom14

Neglect, Possible Abuse, Custody

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My step-daughter lives in Kentucky with her mother. She was born overseas. Her mother is not a US citizen. She and my husband were never married. My husband is not listed on her birth certificate but a home dna test verified he is her biological father. He is a US citizen.

 

In 2013 my husband and I were able to start having a relationship with his daughter. Last year her mother filed for state aid in Kentucky and we were asked to come to court for child support, which we were happy to do. When the mother found out we were coming to court, she dropped the court case.

 

My step-daughter has called us letting us know that there is no food in the house. She often has to visit a neighbors house to eat in the evenings.

 

Her mother makes her call her grandparents (my in-laws) to ask for money for their bills. At our suggestion, our daughter has started telling her mother that she needs to make the phone calls herself. When my in-laws started refusing, her mother started calling my husband. She has threatened to not allow us to see her. In the last couple of months my husband and I have paid to keep their water on, and been hounded by her mother to pay her other utilites.

 

The mother signed tax documents allowing my husband to file for the child tax credit. When we attempted to file the taxes they were declined as someone had already claimed her on their taxes.

 

The mother has, over the last week, spoken to others about one person, one way bus tickets to California and plane tickets overseas so that "she and her daughter could go live there". The utilities are due to be turned off this week, and money received from her ex-husband (not my husband) was sent to a boyfriend.

 

Our daughter is upset, scared, and exhausted from the fighting and idea of being taken away from my husband. We don't have the money for attorney's fees and we don't know what to do.

 

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My step-daughter lives in Kentucky with her mother. She was born overseas. Her mother is not a US citizen. She and my husband were never married. My husband is not listed on her birth certificate but a home dna test verified he is her biological father. He is a US citizen.

 

Has a court order establishing your husband's paternity ever been entered?  What about orders concerning cutody, visitation, and child support?  Sounds like the answer to both questions is no.

 

 

 

The mother signed tax documents allowing my husband to file for the child tax credit. When we attempted to file the taxes they were declined as someone had already claimed her on their taxes.

 

If the mother signed the appropriate tax form (IRS form 8332), then all your husband needed to do was dispute the denial, provided a copy of the signed 8332 to the IRS, and his claim would have been allowed, and the IRS would have pursued the mother.

 

 

 

Our daughter is upset, scared, and exhausted from the fighting and idea of being taken away from my husband. We don't have the money for attorney's fees and we don't know what to do.

 

I assume you meant your husband's daughter/your step-daughter.  Correct?

 

In any event, the reality here is that, when a child is born to an unmarried woman, no man has any parental rights until paternity is properly established and the court enters an order giving him rights.  Since it doesn't appear that has happened to this point, that's what your husband needs to do.  He needs to file a paternity action and ask for custody or visitation.  A child support order will also be entered.  If he fails to take appropriate action, then the mother is well within her rights to take the child wherever she wishes without regard to your husband.  I suggest you and he seek out sources of low/no-cost legal representation in the area in Kentucky where the mother and child exist (if any exist).

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Hi StepMom14,

 

I'm so sorry to hear that your stepdaughter seems to be caught in such an unfortunate situation. It must be frustrating to want to help her, but not really know the next steps...

 

Unfortunately like PG said, if a mother and father are not married at the time of the child's birth, the father has no legal rights to the child. In order to gain these rights, paternity (or "legal fatherhood") must be established. An experienced family law attorney can assist your husband in filing a paternity action -- which can oftentimes be filed at the same time as a petition for custody. Note, however, that paternity must always be established at the same time or BEFORE a court can issue a custody order. You can find Kentucky family law attorneys in your area using FindLaw's lawyer directory -- many offer free consultations, and you can call around and see if any can accommodate your financial situation.

 

I know you mentioned that you may not have the money to afford an attorney at this point, so I agree with PG that you might want to look into getting some legal assistance from your local legal aid society. The Kentucky Bar Association has a page dedicated to Kentucky's four major legal aid programs. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at these helpful articles from our Learn About the Law - Family Law section to get some background information on the issues you would be dealing with if you and your husband try to get custody of your stepdaughter:

Hope you find some helpful information! Best of luck to you and your family!

 

The FindLaw.com Team

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