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Kinship Navigator - Court Ordered Kinship Custody

What is Kinship Custody?

When the state has removed a child from the home, one of the choices the court has besides state's custody is to give custody of the child to a suitable person. This person can be a relative (kin) or someone close to the child (fictive kin).

When is Kinship Custody used?

If the court finds that the child cannot return to their parents but it is not necessary for the child to be in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and that yours is a safe and appropriate home, the court can determine this is the appropriate custody choice for the child. The law prefers that the child be with relatives if they cannot be with their parent.

How is it done?

After the child is removed from the home, the court will have several hearings. Beginning at the first hearing the judge can decide to give you custody of the child on a temporary basis. Eventually, the judge will determine if the child is a Child in Need of Care. Then the court must decide who should have custody on a more long term basis. This is when the court can decide that you should have custody.

How long does Kinship Custody last?
When does the court order expire?

No custody can be changed without a court order. Kinship Custody is designed to be temporary until the parents are able to have the children returned to them or they are adopted. However, there are some children who remain in Kinship Custody until they turn eighteen years old. If a child remains in Kinship Custody, the court can change the custody order at any time after a hearing.

Do I need an attorney?

Generally, you do not need an attorney. You may choose to get an attorney especially if you disagree with the court's or DCFS' plan for the child. DCFS will be represented by an attorney. The parents will be appointed an att orney. The child will be appointed an attorney whose job it is to represent the wishes of the child.

What can you do for the child in your custody?

If granted custody, you have the right to:

  • Have the physical custody of the child;
  • Protect the child;
  • Train and provide reasonable discipline for the child;
  • Provide food and shelter;
  • Enroll and make education decisions for the child;
  • Make medical decisions for the child.

Can you prevent the parent from visiting with the child?

If the judge puts visitation rules in the judgment, then you can limit visitation. However, you must follow the visitation rules in the judgment. If there is nothing regarding visitation in the judgment, then you cannot limit the visitation. However, you and the parents can agree to visitation. Parents still have an obligation and right to communicate with the child.

Do the parents still have the obligation to support?

Yes, parents still have the obligation to support the child. The judge can put a child support amount in the judgment. Or, you may be able to file for child support payments thru the Child Support Enforcement Office with the Department of Children and Family Services. Contact that local or regional office to find out what information and documentation you will need to file for support or change existing support payments to you as payee. There may be a small one-time fee to process this application. You may also hire an attorney to file with the district or juvenile court where you reside.

Can I apply for benefits for the child or have the benefits the child receives put in my name?

Yes, you may apply to be named payee for any benefits to which the child is eligible. You should contact the specific agency handling those benefits to determine what documentation you will need.

Is there any paperwork I have to provide the court?

No, the state will provide the court with all the necessary paperwork. However, you should receive notice of every court date for the child. If the child is living with you, you may be most familiar with the child's needs, and you should speak up and voice any concerns you may have for the child. If you are granted custody, the court should give you a copy of the judgment granting you custody. This judgment is very important. If the judgment is not provided, you should ask for one. You will need to show it to schools, health care providers, etc. to prove you have custody.

Are there any court costs that I will have to pay?

No.