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Can I get custody of my younger siblings?

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  • Can I get custody of my younger siblings?

    I am 30 years, old married to a man I have been with for 10 years, we both have stable jobs making good money and we own a home. My little sister is about to turn 16 and my little brother is 13. They currently live with my mother (who has full custody) and their father in a house they just received 90 day notice on. They have both lost their jobs, the kids complain of their not being food in the house and they had no electricity for 5 days last week. They have no vehicles now, and my mothers license has been revoked for leaving them in the impound.

    Prior to this they lived in a number of places: a duplex for several years, their grandparents basement for a few years, a room in the basement of a bipolar woman's house for months, spent a few weeks with other various family members and then moved to this house. Aside from the tumultuous living arrangements, they are victims of verbal and emotional abuse from both parents. Their parents have threatened to leave them and they both come to me crying and scared of what will happen. Their dad spends most of his money on weed and alcohol and they both buy cigarettes even when there is no food in the house. Their dad has been offering/ letting the kids smoke weed with him. They also had my little sister and her boyfriend (who is currently living in the house) sell the pain meds from her tonsillectomy for extra cash. The two parents fight to the point where the kids are up all night and can't sleep, sometimes missing school. My brother is tired of the verbal abuse from his father and is staying at a friends saying he won't go back until his dad is out of the house. He has been there for over a week and his friends mom is really worried about his well being.

    We talked to my mother recently about her giving us guardianship of the kids and she told them if they left her see might kill herself. Many of the family members have often wondered if she is bipolar and she seems to have gotten increasingly narcotic in the past two years losing tons of weight and having all sorts of respiratory health issues. We don't know if she is doing drugs or is she just has mental issues.

    We already help them out with school clothes and supplies most years, we drive them all over and pick them up from after school events and bring them over to our house to eat and do anything else they tell us they tell us they need. Is there legal action I can take to help them until they turn 18? We have the space and means for them to live here with us. They have had such an unstable life and I would do anything to help them, I just don't want to make things worse. Should I be calling CPS?

  • #2
    Re: Can I get custody of my younger siblings?

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for reaching out to us here at the National Runaway Safeline. It sounds like things have been really challenging for you and your family and we are really sorry to hear about all of this. It is really good to know how supportive you are of your younger siblings and the lengths you have gone to and would continue to go to help keep them safe. We’re here to help you the best we can.

    Your siblings do not deserve to be abused in any way. They deserve a safe, sable place to be and to not be neglected or forced into illegal acts. It is their right to report this, which is something you would be able to do as well as family who is familiar with the case and history. One resource you can explore is Child Help USA at (800) 422 4453 to discuss what qualifies as abuse and to get connected to Child Protective Services of your state. Another option you have is to have either/both of your siblings call us to talk through potential options and we can also call out to CPS to make reports with a youth on the line or on their behalf.

    It sounds like have really been doing everything that you can to support your siblings and that is really admirable. It sounds like they have really been having a hard time growing up in so many different places and treated in the way that they have. We’re not legal experts, but generally speaking having custody transferred could be a potential option as well, which it sounds like you have talked about a bit. Unless there is founded abuse in which CPS deems it necessary to remove the children from the home, the current legal guardian would have to give permission and sign off on a custody/guardianship transfer.

    We’re here to help in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to call or chat with us to talk further about your situation and to explore any options further.

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)
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