– from Sara N. in Whitefish Bay, WI

Question Details:

I am the single mother of a beautiful four year old girl. I have had a hard time recently in regards to my employment status. This has resulted in staying with friends or at various hotel rooms. During this time, I stayed with my aunt for an extended period. She told me that it would be best if my daughter lived with her, and that I should move along. I took my daughter and immediately left. She has just informed me that she is going to take me to court for custody of my daughter. Can she do that?

Family Law Attorney Response:

There are many things a court will take into consideration during a case like this. To answer your question, it is highly unlikely a court will grant custody to a third party. However, it may take into consideration your inability to provide a stable home for your daughter. One scenario may be a complete dismissal. Another could be granting your aunt temporary guardianship until you are on your feet.

In the case of Barstad v. Frazier, 118 Wis. 2d 549, 348 N.W.2d 479 (1984), (Reversing) 112 Wis. 2d 343, 332 N.W.2d 835 (Ct. App. 1983), a mother was in a similar situation. Her grandmother had petitioned for custody, and won. However, the decision was later overturned. Your aunt would have a considerable amount to prove as to why it would be in the child's best interest to be separated from her natural mother.

My advice is to speak with an experienced family law attorney right away. You need legal representation, as well as guidance, in this matter. Something like this is best not left to chance.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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