I Left My Child to a Relative and Signed a Document for Custody. Can I Still Get My Child Back?

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Giving up custody of a child is never easy, but many people face tough circumstances that require them to sign over custody of their child to another relative. If this has happened to you, you may be wondering how to reverse your previous custody agreement once you feel capable of taking care of your child again. Whether or not you can get your child back will rely on your individual circumstances and the types of documents you signed. Here’s what you need to know about getting your child back after signing custody over to a relative.

How to Deal with Reversing a Temporary Custody Agreement

Many parents end up in situations where they need to temporarily sign over custody of their child to another relative. Temporary custody papers allow another relative to make decisions for your child while you are not able to be there. In most cases, relatives will be happy to give custody of the child back to the parent after a certain amount of time. However, if you end up with a relative who does not want to give custody back, the situation can get a little more complicated.

Can You Alter a Temporary Custody Agreement?

As the child’s parent, you have the right to dissolve the temporary custody agreement at any time. If the relative agrees, then it is a very simple process where they just sign custody back to you. If the relative does not agree with your decision, you can still take the child back and regain custody through the legal system. Depending on the state, you may need to file an official motion to dissolve custody or file a petition to remove the guardian. Unless the relative can prove it would be dangerous or unsafe for you to regain custody, the court will most likely decide in your favor.

The only time where it would not be so simple to regain custody of your child is if the relative you signed over custody to is the child’s other parent. In that case, you would have to go to court to argue for changing the custody agreement you have reached with the child’s other parent.

Will Signing Over Custody Affect Your Ability to Get Custody Later?

After the temporary agreement is dissolved, the relative can try to take you to court to regain custody. Many parents worry about attempting to take back their child because the relative threatens to use the temporary custody agreement as an excuse to file for permanent custody.

However, it is not true that a family court will decide a person is an unfit parent just because they temporarily gave custody to another relative. In most cases, courts will try to keep families together and uphold your parental rights. To regain custody, the relative would have to somehow argue that the child is better off with them instead of the parent.

How to Manage Situations with Court Ordered Custody

If a court has declared you to be an unfit guardian and required you to give up custody to a relative, then you are dealing with a court ordered custody situation. This may happen after you are convicted of a crime or investigated by Child Protection Services. Once a judge has taken away your custody rights, it can be a lengthy and difficult process to regain them.

Is It Possible to Get Your Child Back from Court Ordered Custody Arrangements?

Regaining custody, after you were ordered by a court to sign over custody to the relative, will be a little more complicated than regaining custody after you voluntarily gave custody to a relative. Once a court has made a custody decision, it is normally permanent. If you wish to get custody back, you will have to go back to court again to recover custody. Keep in mind that this might be challenging if you are still in the same situation that caused the judge to take away custody in the first place.

What Are the Steps of Changing Court Ordered Custody?

If you are interested in fighting your relative for custody of your child, there are a few things you should always do:

Talk to a lawyer: Navigating all of the complicated laws surrounding child custody is tough to do on your own. Try to find a lawyer who has a lot of experience with family law and custody disagreements in your state.

Satisfy any contingencies: Carefully look at the ruling made during your previous custody hearing. Find out if the judge mentioned anything about requirements you had to satisfy before regaining custody. For example, you may need to get a permanent residence, take some parenting classes, or attend therapy for alcohol abuse. Make sure you satisfy any requirements if you regaining custody was contingent on specific actions.

Ask for an evaluation: After completing any court ordered steps, ask the judge for a child custody evaluation. This in-home evaluation will take a look at your current circumstances, and it can be used to prove that you are now capable of parenting.

Be patient and responsible until the decision is made: It might be tempting to just take your child back from a relative who has custody, but you should never do this. Purposefully violating the court’s custody orders may make them rule against you in future hearings. Instead, try to follow all rules, visit your child regularly during schedules visitations, and be polite to the relative who has the child.

Schedule a custody hearing: Once you have satisfied all contingencies and gotten an evaluation that shows your home is safe for a child, get your lawyer to help you set up a date for a custody hearing. Be prepared to argue for regaining custody and show that it is in your child’s best interests to live with you. Even if you cannot regain sole custody, you may be able to get more visitation time or shared custody.

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