Question asked on May 01st, 2017

Q: His sister is the biological mom but at birth put her brother down as the biological father and we were married at the time. I’v raised her since birth, shes 9, her biological mother has lost custody of other kids due to drugs. I moved to Las vegas and last year my ex her uncle came and took her from me, i have no legal rights over her. He then took her back to CA. and ended up back with the biological mom because he couldn’t take care of her, then the biological mom calls me at 3am crying for me to come get her because she belongs with me because she said i raised her and she needs to be with her mom. Now i’ve been having her back in Las vegas for 9 months and now the uncle who’s down as father is threatening me with the police to come take her back from me. i want to file for custody, can i? And can he have her removed if he comes to Las vegas with the police?

A: The first question is “jurisdiction.”  Frankly, it is hard to tell who is who, or related to whom, biologically or otherwise, from that recital.  It is unclear whether any court anywhere has ever issued a custodial order.  if not, then it appears that Nevada is the child’s Home State, and therefore the place where any case would proceed.  If there is some prior order somewhere else, however, it is possible that any case would have to be prosecuted there.

If you have raised this child since birth, then there is a chance for either a guardianship or a custody order naming you to care for the child.  Those topics are explained here and here.  It also appears to be that the birth certificate is knowingly false, naming at least a father who is not actually the father; where the biological father fits in is unclear.  It is possible that those facts would support a Termination of Parental Rights to get the brother/uncle out of the picture; explained here.

In any event, after reading those pages, you should consult with a family law specialist, because it is clear that the situation is a mess, legally and otherwise, and the people involved are volatile; both you and the child deserve some stability, and that is only likely to happen if you get qualified counsel to unwind the mess and establish proper orders.

Marshal S. Willick