Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Case study: Concerned Great-Grandmother

Case overview:

Rowena called us to see if there was anything that we could do to help her grand-daughter, Alicia, recover her two-year-old son, Mikael.

Alicia had broken off an abusive relationship, and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against Paul.  The Paul denied paternity of Mikael. Alicia was the only parent listed on the birth certificate, and Paul never legally established paternity, and has never contributed to the support of his child.

However, Paul’s mother showed an interest in Mikael, and frequently had him for visitation. After the break-up of the relationship, Paul moved back into the house with his mother. During a visitation following an incident where Mikael had been hospitalized for a serious infection, Paul refused to allow them to pick up Mikael for the follow-up appointment.

Rowena and Alicia made repeated attempts to contact Paul or Paul’s mother, and to retrieve Mikael. There was no answer at the door, or to phone calls.  On one occasion, Paul answered the door, threw things at Rowena, cursed her out, and threatened her with violence.

Rowena believed that Paul was only keeping Mikael as a way of torturing Alicia, to perpetuate the cycle of abuse that she had broken when she ended the relationship, and got a restraining order.

Everyone Rowena contacted informed her that this was a custody matter not a criminal matter, and that Alicia needed an attorney. It would be months before they could get a court hearing.

Action taken by MCM:

Our volunteer (under the supervision of Case Manager, Millie Ives) informed Rowena of Alicia’s rights under Minnesota State Statute 609.26 and referred them to the Hennepin County Family Court Self-Help Center, where Alicia was able to apply for a Temporary Custody Order.  After the TCO was granted, the police accompanied Rowena to the home where Mikael was being held, and retrieved him safely.


Child was safely returned to his custodial parent, and process was begun to establish a permanent legal custody order establishing Alicia as the legal and custodial parent for Mikael.  Case was closed in three days.
 (All names changed to protect the privacy of our clients and their families)