What canI do to retain custody of my niece if her parolee father wants her to live with him out-of-state?

My 7 year-old niece has lived in my home for almost 2 years; her mother wants this. Her mother is not capable of taking care of her. I have a notarized paper stating that I can take care of her. Her father recently got out of prison and wants my niece to come live with him. He is on parole so he cannot leave the state of NM. He wants to send someone out to get her or get permission to come. Her parents never went to court so custody was never determined; she has in the past lived with either parent. Can he do that? Can I get in trouble if I give her to any one? Can I keep her here?

Asked on July 28, 2010 under Family Law, Florida


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I understand that you are in a very delicate situation emotionally but please do not hide your niece from her Father.  What you need to do is go and see an attorney in your area about the possibility of obtaining temporary custody of your niece.  Understand, though, that parents are given priority in custody determinations unless it goes against the "best interests of the child."  You need a good lawyer who can make that determination for you.  If you have been the only real home that she knows and you have all the makings of a good life for her then you may have a shot.  Good luck. And hurry.  

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