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Dazed_and_Confused's avatar

Can I get custody of a sibling?

Asked by Dazed_and_Confused (361 points ) June 13th, 2012

WARNING VERY LONG IF YOU WANNA PASS THE DETAILS JUST SKIP TO THE LAST FEW SENTENCES…

I’m 19 years old and going to college to be a social worker, I own a 2 bedroom apartment in Minnesota. I’m very responsible and I make a fair amount of money as a PCA.
Now here is my question… My brother is 5 years old, he was born in Kansas, he was kind of a mistake on my dads part but we still love him to death! My dad became a truck driver for a while and was able to visit him in Kansas then come up to Minnesota to visit me and my sisters. Well My brothers mom must have gotten sick of my dad’s visits so she moved to Nevada about 3 years ago, we have’nt seen my brother since and my dad tries to visit him once a year. its expensive and takes a lot of work, shes always suing him for more child support. My dad tries his best to see his son whenever he can but its becoming difficult… after the court denied him once more over joint custody so my brother could come see us and his family here in Minnesota he became depressed and moved back to his parents…

Now my question is can I sue her for joint custody? and how would i go about it? would i have to go threw Nevada courts? I’m looking for advice… do i have a case?

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12 Answers

bewailknot's avatar

I don’t know that you would have a case. If the court had already decided she was an unfit mother and had placed him in foster care then you might be able to get custody, but this does not sound like that type of situation. I have heard of grandparents suing for and winning rights for visitation, but even that usually takes having extra money to spend on an attorney.

janbb's avatar

I admire your commitment but I doubt you would have a case.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m sorry to say: you can try but you’d probably, most likely fail. Unless the mother is abusive and not accepting help in any form and there are no other closer relatives to take care of him.

tranquilsea's avatar

I want to add: you sound like you really miss seeing your brother. I understand. Have you tried direct contact with the mom? You’d have to smother any irate feelings you have about the mom and suck up like crazy but if the net result is your being able to see him then try.

Good luck!

lillycoyote's avatar

Unfortunately, while it is possible, it is extremely unlikely that, you, as a 19-year old half-sibling who is living in another state, would be able to get joint custody, with the child’s biological mother, of your younger brother. I think your best bet is to sue or petition the court for visitation rights. Nevada is actually one of the few states that specifically grants siblings visitation rights if that is in the best interest of the child.

Here is some information, though kind of old

and some more information on sibling visitation rights in Nevada

but this is a matter, definitely, for the courts, and you will need a lawyer if you want to try this.

creative1's avatar

Sorry the only way they would look at you to take custody of the child is if his parents were unfit to care for him and regardless of how she feels about your father it sounds like your brothers mother does love and care about her son. What I find is sad is the fact that she is keeping him from the other side of his family which may come back to bite her when he becomes an adult and starts asking questions as to why he doesn’t know his siblings and the rest of your fathers family.

YARNLADY's avatar

Contact the children’s services in his home state and talk to a counselor there.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with everyone above that unless the mom is unfit you would not have a chance at any sort of custody.

I think you should reach out to the mom and tell her you want to visit your brother. She might have no problem with it. Sole custody was probably sought because your dad is a trucker and not around much anyway, and she lives in a different state, plus she gets the child support, but that has nothing to do with you as a sibling really. Whether you see the child or not won’t affect if she gets child support and who can make decisions regarding his care.

Dazed_and_Confused's avatar

Thank you all for your answers! I kind of want to add, that I have written heart filled letters to his mom. Telling her that I would pay for plane tickets and I would go by her rules and do everything I can to work with her, so she’d become comfortable with her son being here for a week or too. I never got a response back. She has 2 other children that she lets visit her ex-husband in kansas with their half sister(she even invites her to her home[plane included], im not sure why..).
I know after 2 years after my brother was born she started fighting with our dad more and more, but just because the relationship between the parents is bad shouldn’t mean that the relationship between the child and family should be bad…
I’m mainly looking for almost a joint custody. Just like a week or two here in the summer or for the holidays. Is there really nothing I can do to see my brother for a week here in Minnesota?

I really don’t know why she has so much against me and my family. I really don’t. I’ve tried to work with her talk to her. but she wants nothing to do with us. When my brother was born i bought him shirts, bibs, and boots, but she made me return them…(claiming they were insulting her because they were too small[i was 14 and bought premature i didn’t know what the “P” ment,])
She and her family also were very rude to me and my sisters when we would visit and make us sleep outside in the camper during the hot Nevada heat, while her children slept inside. She also lets her current boyfriend smoke cigarettes in the house/car which my brother is allergic too, causing him once to develop pneumonia. Ugh its a big mess…

but THANKYOU all again for your time to answer my question… even if it is a tough answer to hear sometimes…

lillycoyote's avatar

I know you really love your little brother but you are going to need an attorney to help you with this if you want to pursue it. Here is a Yahoo search of hits on legal aid. I imagine that at 19 and in college you don’t have a lot of money to throw around and these kind of things cost money, in terms of lawyer time. Maybe these links will help you find someone who can help you. If you could just find a way to let your little brother know how much you love and care about him… that would go a long way, I think.

JLeslie's avatar

I think you would have to visit him there where he lives, I don’t see her sending him off for a couple weeks. Once your borther gets older (how old his he?) maybe he will start asking to see you if you keep in touch with him and then that will get the ball rolling for a visit.

Also, I think you want vistitation of your brother not custody. Using the word custody, if you have around his mother, is a big deal. If I were her I would think it ridiculous (sorry to use that word, I mean no offense, but trying to give you her perspective) that you think you can have custody? Have a right to make health decisions for him, that you would be legally responsible for him, and that she would lose some of her child support. Custody is not a two week a year situation usually.

cazzie's avatar

Unless there was joint custody to begin with (and it sounds like there wasn’t) she can take him where ever she wants. For you to ask for joint custody of a child you only see a few days or weeks a year and am not the biological father of is not realistic. I think what you are trying to fight for are visitation rights. You and your father have every right to fight for the visitation situation to be improved.

Being a ‘custodial parent’ involves having medical, scholastic say in the child’s life. It means being involved in raising the child and being with the child no less than one third of the time. (or so say the rules where I live. I think it varies in the US from State to State.) You can’t be an absent custodial parent, which is what your father has been, as far as the courts are concerned. Work and physical distance has made this difficult, but the court only sees the facts, and not the ‘intent’.

Find out how you can improve visitation rights for your family and forget custodial rights.

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