This is the 3rd installment in a series by Virginia Cornwell, a A State of Ohio Grandparent Rights Lawyer and Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist. Virginia is one of approximate 100 attorneys in Ohio to have received this honor.
GRANDPARENT CUSTODY IN OHIO, UNSUITABILITY, AND CASES IN WHICH A CHILD IS FOUND TO BE ABUSED, NEGLECTED OR DEPENDENT (CHILDREN’S SERVICES CASES)
On March 29, 2006, The Supreme Court of Ohio, in In re C.R. held that when a juvenile court adjudicates a child to be abused, neglected or dependent, it has no duty to make a separate finding at the dispositional hearing that the parent is unsuitable before awarding legal custody to a non-parent, because an adjudication of abuse, neglect or dependency is a determination about the care and condition of a child, and implicitly involves a determination of the unsuitability of the child’s custodial and/or non-custodial parents.
Ohio Grandparent Rights To Seek Or Provide Kinship Care, Temporary Custody, Visitation, Or Custody When The Child Is In The Custody Of Children Services, Family And Youth Services, Department Of Human Services Or A Similar Agency
Ohio Grandparents often have a very difficult time obtaining custody of their grandchildren when they are in the temporary or legal custody of a PCSA (Public Children’s Services Agency) in Ohio. It is very difficult to get the agency to tell you anything about the case. Often, the grandparents will get either no information, mixed information or even false information from the Children’s Services Agency. Most of the time however, they do not return your calls.
It is important to remember that phone calls are invisible. I’ll say that again. PHONE CALLS ARE INVISIBLE. Do NOT wait for that caseworker to return your call. It probably won’t happen, and if it does, it still will not get you any closer to getting temporary or legal custody of your grandchild. If a children’s services case is open on your grandchild, and you want to take temporary or legal custody of your grandchild, or have your grandchild live with you while the children’s services case is pending, you need to notify children’s services, IN WRITING, that you are will to take legal custody, temporary custody, provide kinship care, or simply have the child placed with you while the court case is proceeding. You are well advised to fax this information to children’s services. You can send faxes at many stores, like FedEx/Kinko’s, Staples, or other similar stores. KEEP THE FAX CONFIRMATION RECEIPT to prove the letter was received.
Now, getting information regarding a working fax number of the Children’s Services case worker assigned to your child’s case may be difficult in and of itself. You do not have a lot of time. Sometimes Children’s Services case move very quickly and if you do not act early in the case, almost right away, you are damaging your chances of being able to take custody of your grandchild if their parents lose custody.
If you are the grandparent of a child that is involved in a Children’s Service (aka CPS, DFYS, DFS, etc.) case, your (adult) child’s attorney may be able to give you the fax number of Children’s Services. If not, try using the main fax number for the children’s services agency, which should be found on the internet. (Please note, ODJFS keeps a listing of the children’s services phone numbers and fax numbers for all 88 Counties. I recently tried to the call the phone number for one of those counties, and it rang endlessly with no answer. Don’t be discouraged! There are phone numbers for the main children’s services office, and many regional children’s services offices. Ask a person who knows how to search the internet well to help you find one. You can fax it to a couple of different fax numbers to make sure it gets through.) Address the letter to both the caseworker and the supervisor of the caseworker. It is okay if you don’t know their names, just make sure that you have the names and date of birth of the child and, if possible, the parents, included in the letter and spelled correctly. If the parents go by different names, and not always their legal names, include that information as well so that the Children Services agency can match up the letter with the appropriate caseworker. When you fax the letter, send a second fax with a copy of the fax confirmation sheet. This sends a message that you can prove that you notified the caseworker regarding your intention to take temporary or legal custody of your grandchild, or become a care giver for your grandchild.
The other articles in the series can be seen here:
DISCLAIMER – read it!