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Custody of Children - How to Care for 10-Year-Old Niece?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Fiona Keenan, 18 April 2015.

  1. Fiona Keenan

    Fiona Keenan New Member

    18 April 2015
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    Hi. I'm enquiring about our 10 year old niece. She (and her 3 other siblings) have been removed from her parents previously for drug abuse/neglect. Her father is currently in prison for drug offences. Her mother is continuing to abuse drugs, and there is another child (2 1/2 years old). They are often not fed properly, if at all.

    When she was removed, she lived with us for almost 2 years. She spends a majority of her time with us. We ensure she is provided with lunch for school daily. I pick her up and take her to school and pay all school costs/fees etc. She doesn't want to be living with her parents.

    What is the best course of action to help her legally live with us (custody of children)? She's a highly intelligent and functioning child for her age. Currently, her mother is threatening to change schools, and we haven't seen her for over 2 weeks. We're quite concerned about her physical and emotional state.
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    23 July 2014
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    I suppose your first step is to report your concerns to the Department of Human Services so they can investigate the child's welfare. If at any time you're concerned for the child in the interim, you can contact your local police station and request that a welfare check be conducted at the child's current residence.

    Next, organise a family dispute resolution conference through Legal Aid. Mediation is mandatory before court proceedings can commence and even if mediation is unsuccessful, you will receive the s60i certificate needed to commence court proceedings.

    In parenting matters, the court will make orders that it considers to be in the best interests of the child, and the pathway it uses to assess the child's best interests is outlined in section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975.

    Basically, you would need to show it's in the best interests of the child to live primarily with you, but you always have a better chance of attaining this by also ensuring you've made provisions for how the child will maintain a relationship with her parents.

    I really encourage you to get qualified legal advice for this situation as it is a bit more complex because of the history with DHS already and your relationship to the child. Legal Aid provides free consultations, so give them a call. I think that given the child's age, it's important this matter is assessed more closely.
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