my daughter keeps running away

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my daughter keeps running away

my daughter ran away from her mothers last night, I went and found her and because it was her mothers weekend I had to take her back to her moms. She told me if I took her back she would leave again. I took her to her moms, went in to talk to her mom about what we should do. her and her mom got into it again. mother told her to got to her room. my daughter went out the front door. my ex’s new husband went after her and ripped her hand off the van and pulled her out of the van and dragged her into the road. where her mom began to yell. What should i do????

Asked on June 27, 2009 under Family Law, Kansas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm not exactly sure of your custody arrangements here, do you have joint custody, or are you the custodial parent or is it your wife?  I also don't know the age of your daughter.

Anyway, in a case such as this, the child can state their preference as to who they want to live with but the court will take into consideration all of the factors of the case not just the preference. This is especially true when the child is younger.  As the child becomes an older teenager, the court will place a greater weight on their preferences, especially since it’s difficult to force a visitation schedule on a teen in the first place.

If the parent in question disagrees with the change the case will have to go to court.  The parties will need to conduct discovery of each other’s cases to find out exactly why it is that the child desires to live with the other parent.  If a social study is done, the caseworker for the social study will talk with the child and the parents to find out why the child wants to live with the other parent.  The judge may also want to interview the child alone in chambers.  The child may also have a counselor who could weigh in on his/her preference.

You need to be very careful when relying on the child’s preferences and how you handle this issue because it forces the child to choose one parent over the other and the courts don’t want to put a child in that situation.

Many times through this process the real reason comes out as to why the child really wants the change.  It could range from one end of the spectrum that the child is tired of mom’s rules and discipline and they perceive the grass to be greener on the other side at dad’s house, to the other spectrum that mom has serious issues such as neglect or abuse and the child wants out of that environment.  Usually, the truth will come out as the case unfolds.

The court will then decide only what’s in the best interest of the child.  It will look at all of the facts surrounding the case and apply them to the law to make a ruling.  It might be easier in the long run to allow the move on a temporary basis only to see how the child handles the change and then determine whether the change should be made permanent.

In your particular situation, if you can't work things out directly with your wife, you will need to get an attorney to help.  This will most probably mean court.  But if you truly believe that is what is in your daughter's best interest you've no choice.  The fact that your ex's spouse got so angry and physical with her is not a good sign.


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