Q: My 17 year old is being criminally detained in juvenile detention. In this scenerio have my rights been terminated?
I have sole legal custody & primary physical of all 4 kids with my felon ex in another state getting visitation. My son & ex believe that I have lost custody in this scenerio & that I cant put my son into residential treatment or theraputic foster care (Im not comfortable with him returning home with his risky behaviors & the 3 younger kids in the home). In addition the 17 year old is being told by dad he has a right to choose even though the court has ruled on custody more then once. So I have a teen acting out in an effort to get kicked out so he can live with dad. This has been going on for 3 years- the first dad had supervised parenting, the second he was in prison & the 3rd he is on parole & battling for custody of just the one child. The rest of my kids are doing amazing with me & there is no case or history of neglect, abuse etc. Ideas? Info?
A: Your rights have not been terminated, and your custody order remains in effect. Physical custody may have been temporarily given to the state (though there's a big difference between temporary detention pending trial, and being committed to a facility at the final disposition hearing). The state should be working with the parent who has legal custody. If a public defender has been appointed for your 17 year old, that attorney should be working with you, unless there's a disagreement about placement between you and the 17 year old. In that case (and if you can't afford an attorney) you could ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you as the parent. When the 17 year old is at the point of being released from state custody, he will need to be returned to the parent who has physical custody under the civil custody order. The delinquency court cannot change the custody arrangement between the two parents.
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