First off, I'm not related to the child. I started out as a babysitter, and now I'm basically raising her-which is not a problem for me. I pay for everything she needs (clothes, food, diapers, medicine, etc.) and her parents no longer pay me. They rarely contact me anymore but when they do, I take their child to them. Within hours, she's back in my care. On rare occasions when she stays with them longer than a few hours (maybe 2 days-at most) she comes back in the same clothes she had on when I left her, her diaper is saturated (which brings terrible diaper rashes), and she's always starving as soon as I get her. In their home there is drug usage by both parents, abuse (not towards the child that I am aware of), and alcohol-all have happened while she's been in their care. Any advice?
Family Law Attorney
You need to consult immediately with an attorney in your area. As a non-parent, your rights over the child are very limited. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that parents have a Constitutional right to custody of their children. But, like most Constitutional rights, this right is not absolute - parents can lose it if they demonstrate that they present a risk of harm to the child.
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Family Law Attorney
You can file a petition for guardianship over the child. You will have to provide notice to the parents of the child. You need to get your proof lined up in order to prove all of what you posted because without it, once the parents are served with the petition, the parents will likely shows up at your door demanding the child. You would have no legal rights to keep the child from them. That's why you need to contact and sit down with an attorney in your area of the state immediately to discuss this matter BEFORE you take any steps.
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