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  1. #1

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    Grandchild abuse, denial of visitation please help

    My granddaughters are 3 and 6. My older granddaughter lived with me last summer and school year due to problems at home: alcohol and drug abuse, fighting, co-dependency. I have two letters from my daughter-in-law putting my granddaughter in my care, last summer when my son was drinking and abusive, second for school year. Last year Mom planned to leave with a man she met while volunteering at a prison. She was to leave 5-year-old with me and baby with my son. The felon was denied parole because of this unsuitable arrangement, so my son and she reunited. She feared it would "look bad later" if she left her kids. For school this year my daughter-in-law wrote another letter giving me care of older girl. A copy was provided to the school, social service agencies, and the housing authority which administers my Section 8 housing assistance. By Fall my son was drinking again, not working, collecting unemployment, and Mom was in school. Their sole income is a benefit payment and food stamps. I no longer work and live on social security disability, so I was only one available to take the child to school. She lived with me during the week; I was her caregiver and contact person for all school needs and functions. The letter stated this arrangement would continue through summer but it has not. It explained it was best she live with me due to family instability and domestic issues. I took her to and from school every day; she stayed at her parents' apt on weekends. She thrived in school, but soon began to show signs of behavioral and emotional problems. Overall her grades were high but teachers expressed concerns. When things were bad at home my granddaughter knew she would find peace, security at my house, even tho I took a strong attitude toward discipline and work. She was not coddled yet she insists she would rather stay with me. I told her that her mom and dad loved her and have never fostered a need for her to choose. I tried to balance her life, not disrupt it. Ongoing issues alcohol abuse, screaming, fighting, emotional and psychological problems, problems with landlords. Each time dad sobers up they must catch up on old bills and bank overdraft charges. Recently a bank threatened to charge them with writing bad checks because he used their debit card to withdraw non-existent funds to buy booze. Meanwhile kids needed shoes and diapers; Mom went to food banks for help. Each time they reconcile, I am condemned for being "too close" and spending too much time with the girls and denied contact until the cycle begins anew. My daughter-in-law fluctuates between being the victim, and being the supportive, subservient wife. I am not exaggerating the drama, nor do I consider their domestic problems my business, but I am extremely worried for the effects all of this is having on my granddaughters.

    My son is an ex-con; Mom is afraid to cause trouble because later he will blame her (and me). She has been on a waiting list at a women's shelter numerous times, then removed her name each time they reconcile - classic codependency and dysfunction. She gets infuriated if I point out what this does to her daughters. I want to help the girls but can't afford a lawyer. I would happily make payments to any lawyer willing to help me at least get visitation.

    My granddaughter has said MANY times she doesn't want to go home and begs me to stay, yet she loves and misses her mom and sister. At my home she has her room, regular schedule, chores, discipline, consistent bed times, ie stability and structure. I don't want to break up their home but I think something needs to be done.

    At school my granddaughter hit another child; a counselor was called and as guardian I was advised she needed counseling. I offered to take her as I did to doctor and dental appts, but parents said no "for fear of what she might say." Recently both girls were left in my care for 7 days and nights while parents went out of state to a religious ceremony. Upon return parents again argued I was seeing girls too much. Days later they asked I watch girls "for a
    couple hours." They were gone all day, yet argument ensued when they returned when I questioned the time and mentioned girl had severe headache. My son screamed at me for a half hour about interfering.

    My granddaughter had complained of a bad headache and seemed sullen and withdrawn. I asked her why. She cried and said it was from listening to "mom and dad screaming and yelling for three hours this morning." She was extremely upset because her parents were planning to move far away and I would not be moving with them. I told her she could always call me, but she said they would not let her.

    My son insisted they wanted me to move with them, then changed their minds when they fought again and girl wanted to come back to my house. Every few days a different story: they want my relationship with their girls to continue, liked having me near so Mom could finish school and both could find work. I had even agreed to give up my housing voucher if it meant maintaining contact and care for girls. Parents heartily agreed - until next fight. Then it was stay away, leave us alone, don't "follow us" because "you called CPS."

    My granddaughter is confused, upset, worried, stressed because we are very close. She cried, Grandma please move with us, please don't leave me.

    I later reported this to the police and was told there was nothing they
    could do because I did not call at the time. But if I ever saw or heard about anything again, I would be charged with child neglect if I did not report it.

    Once my daughter-in-law came screaming to my door barefoot with kids screaming for help, "he's coming after me!" My son tried to break down door, she called 911. He was charged with disturbing the peace and child endangerment. But she recanted saying she had "overreacted and misunderstood." After two home visits child endangerment charges were dropped and he was fined for disturbing the peace.

    I have contacted the authorities to let them know the situation continues and ask if they were still monitoring the family because I cannot contact kids either in person or by phone because "you called CPS." I am upset my granddaughter no longer has a place to go when things are bad, and denied contact with a grandparent with whom she has been very close since birth. My son denies this to other family members. They think the problem is that they might get into trouble, not that their dysfunction and instability might be hurting their daughters.

    Unless something happens and police are called, no one knows wat is happening in that home. My concern is that this family will move away and my granddaughter will lose all contact with the only person she has ever been able to depend upon and trust. I love both of my granddaughters dearly and am concerned for their welfare. I am in desperate need of legal help. Maybe I could get grandparent visitation rights. I meet Nebraska criteria for such - at least I could let them know someone is watching and cares.

    I feel what is best for those girls took precendence over the verbal assaults I get from my son and his wife. My relationship with their daughters had always been fostered and encouraged by them, probably more because they needed my help. But now they realize people are beginning to notice and want to start anew away from scrutiny. They insist I am trying to "take their kids." I raised three kids alone and have no desire to be a parent again or remove children from their parents, but I would take the girls in a heartbeat if they ever are removed from their home.

    Now I am out of state dealing with my brother's illness, and won't return to Nebraska for a few weeks. I know my granddaughter, who has had nearly daily contact with me all her life with her parents' full support and consent, is unhappy she is being kept from me and they are moving. I want their famly situation monitored because I feel the home is unstable and emotionally and psychologically abusive. Child Protective Services has had numerous calls re this family and twice cases have been opened, investigated, then closed again when the couple pulls it together long enough for case workers to think things are ok.

    My son is an ex-convict who has not worked in two years. Mom has a history of emotional and psychological problems, alcohol and drug abuse. But she is clean now, attending school and dad stays home with kids. Three times she applied to a women's shelter, then recanted and returned home. I am concerned too because I am on a fixed income, although I have had a small rental house for four years. They lived in numerous locations during that same time.



    I cannot afford a lawyer but I believe I meet the criteria for grandparents rights or maybe even custody: established and healthy relationship with the girls; stable home; repeatedly provided safe haven for kids during family turmoil; it is in their best interest my relationship and contact with them continues. I pray this family heals, but chaos always repeats and parents refuse counseling and deny all allegations.

    My son is an alcoholic; my daughter-in-law has a history of emotional and
    psychological problems. No one denies they love the girls. But they refuse
    help. There are no other family members able or willing to intervene. My
    resources are very limited, and the emotional and verbal abuse against me has taken a toll. But the girls' interests come first.

    The police said unless I call CPS there is little they can do. CPS says unless
    I see or know something specific and report it immediately they can't do anything either. I feel helpless, have little money and miss and am worried about granddaughters. I would like to have visitation rights at least, but I sincerely want only what is best for the girls. I am at wits end and need advice. Thank you.

    Carol Zanetti, Lincoln, Nebraska

  2. Moderator Honorable Colleague

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    Unfortunately, you do not meet the requirements to petition for grandparent visitation. Your best bet is to try to rebuild your relationship with the parents.
    - http://www.nebar.com/resources/nelaw...6sc/scjun2.htm[Statutes:]Nebraska's grandparent visitation statutes are narrowly drawn and explicitly protect parental rights while taking the child's best interests into consideration.(Proof.) Under the Nebraska grandparent visitation statutes, a court is without authority to order grandparent visitation unless a petitioning grandparent can prove by clear and convincing evidence that (1) there is, or has been, a significant beneficial relationship between the grandparent and the child; (2) it is in the best interests of the child that such relationship continue; and (3) such visitation will not adversely interfere with the parent-child relationship. Under Nebraska's grandparent visitation statutes, a Nebraska grandparent can seek visitation only under certain circumstances. Under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1802(1) (Reissue 2004), a grandparent may seek visitation if the grandchild's parent or parents are deceased, divorced or in the process of seeking a divorce, or have never been married but paternity has been legally established. Nebraska's grandparent visitation statutes clearly and significantly place the burden of proof upon the grandparent seeking a visitation order.
    I'm not a lawyer

  3. #3

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    CPS now involved

    After making my initial post, I learned that both my son and my daughter-in-law had been charged with Child Neglect on April 2 and the first hearing was held just after I had left the state due to a family emergency. Of course my kids did not want me to know about the charges or the hearing, probably because they learned I had a legal right (in Nebraska) to attend and to participate. According to CPS, I can write to the court and provide documentation but not actually speak at the hearings, but I do have the right to be there. I will be at all future hearings. I have no idea if they will be continued, or if the parents will enter pleas, or if it might even go to trial. But now CPS and I are in communication, and hopefully they will see the truth and get those kids out of that environment.

    CPS told me if the kids are made wards of the state, I then could be provided free counsel because the court would look at family placement before foster care. But for now the kids remain in their parents' custody, probably because I had not spoken to CPS yet and so they had little information as to what was really going on; I am not sure why but the hearing simply was continued with no action taken. That might change now that both I and the maternal grandfather have spoken with CPS about what is and has been going on in that home. CPS wants to meet with me in person as soon as I get back to Nebraska. The supervisor told me not to get a lawyer yet. I had told her I would sell my car if I had to, but she advised I wait until the next hearing, and said she didn't think it would be that far off. But who knows, that could be weeks or even months, right? I am worried sick about my granddaughters and my not being allowed even to talk to the older one over the phone after she has lived with me for so long. My hope is that this new information will cause CPS to reconsider where those kids should be.

    But as I said, I don't have money for a lawyer anyway, and even if I did, at this point, what can I do? I miss my granddaughters, but most importantly, this forced end to our communication and relationship must be confusing and difficult for the older girl. She and I are very close.

    I can't return home to Nebraska until later this week or maybe even later than that. Any advice what I can or should do in the meantime?

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