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Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

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Latest post Tue, May 30 2017 9:41 AM by karen2222. 6 replies.
  • Mon, May 29 2017 5:55 AM

    • MichiTa
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    Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    I'm new here, so forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong place!

    I need help regarding a situation my sister and father are in, none of us are sure what to do.

    My mom lives in Washington state and has custody of my 17yo sister (who turns 18 this fall).  My dad lives in Montana and has already spoken to the courts about getting custody, and they said that my sister is old enough now she can live where she chooses.

    My mom says that if my sister moves than she (mom) will sell my sister's prom dress, of which my dad and another sibling paid a portion to get. My mom paid for slightly more than half of the total price. Is she legally allowed to sell it without permission, since my sister is a minor? She also says she expects to be reimbursed for anything else she has bought my sister, whether my sister wanted it or not, including her clothes, make-up, and furniture (all the furniture would stay with my mom, but she still wants to be reimbursed). Some clothes she has said she wants back.

    I'm assuming she actually has the right to do all this because my sister is still technically a minor for a few more months, but I am hoping I'm wrong. If I remember right, providing clothing for your child is part of the parents' responsibility, so it seems like it would be weird if she were allowed to suddenly take it back or want to be reimbursed for it.

    Thanks for the help!

  • Mon, May 29 2017 6:39 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,431

    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    Mom likely has ownership and control of all things under her roof bought for or by minor .....but I think she has zero practical leverage to get reimbursed beyond her jawbone ..

    Absent a written modification to an order or a clear citation of relevant state law as to what a 17 year old may do Id be a bit nervous about minors official capacity to move...

     



  • Mon, May 29 2017 10:56 AM In reply to

    • MichiTa
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    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    The divorce was 7 years ago, so the details are a bit hazy, but I remember them asking us each who we would like to live with and then after that they made it official in court. Maybe they're considering my sister old enough to move if she chooses because the custody wasn't court assigned? 

  • Mon, May 29 2017 5:26 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,431

    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    THe written order is what counts ...the wishes of a teen below 18 do not officially matter unless court says they do in new written order ....in most states ....so tread lightly . 

    NO mom is not entitled to a dime of restitution...but, she she may withhold permission until she gets what she wants ..fair or foul....

     



  • Tue, May 30 2017 9:18 AM In reply to

    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    MichiTa:
    My dad . . . has already spoken to the courts about getting custody

    What does "spoken to the courts" mean?  Which courts (plural?) did he speak with?  Courts in Washington?  Courts in Montana?  Both?  Who specifically did he speak with (not looking for names, but did he speak with a judge, a clerk, or someone else)?

     

    MichiTa:
    they said that my sister is old enough now she can live where she chooses.

    Again, who specifically told him this?

     

    MichiTa:
    Is she legally allowed to sell it without permission, since my sister is a minor?

    Yes.

     

    MichiTa:

    She also says she expects to be reimbursed for anything else she has bought my sister, whether my sister wanted it or not, including her clothes, make-up, and furniture (all the furniture would stay with my mom, but she still wants to be reimbursed). Some clothes she has said she wants back.

    I'm assuming she actually has the right to do all

    She has the right to sell the dress, and she certainly has the right to "say[] [that] she expects to be reimbursed" for the various things mentioned, but she has no legal right to reimbursement.

     

    MichiTa:
    my sister is still technically a minor for a few more months

    There's nothing "technical" about it.  She was a minor at age 1 and at age 5 and at age 10 and at age 15, and she's still a minor at age 17.  Just because she close to no longer being a minor is meaningless.

     

    MichiTa:
    If I remember right, providing clothing for your child is part of the parents' responsibility, so it seems like it would be weird if she were allowed to suddenly take it back or want to be reimbursed for it.

    "Weird" isn't a legal concept.  Anything a parent buys for a minor child belongs to the parent.

  • Tue, May 30 2017 9:19 AM In reply to

    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    MichiTa:
    I remember them asking us each who we would like to live with and then after that they made it official in court.

    Depending on the state, starting around age 12, courts will consider the child's preference when it comes to custody.  However, the child's preference isn't controlling.

     

    MichiTa:
    Maybe they're considering my sister old enough to move if she chooses because the custody wasn't court assigned?

    Huh?

  • Tue, May 30 2017 9:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Custody transfer, mom being difficult about 17yos belongings

    MichiTa:
    My dad lives in Montana and has already spoken to the courts about getting custody, and they said that my sister is old enough now she can live where she chooses.

    First of all, did he speak to the correct court?  This is nearly always the one that issued the custody order currently in effect.

    Secondly, courts and court staff aren't supposed to give legal advice and in fact usually decline to discuss legal issues with people, instead advising them to discuss it with their lawyers.  It's possible your father found information on the court's website, though.

    A quick internet search revealed that 18 is the age of majority in both Washington and Montana, so any assertion that your 17-year-old sister doesn't need anyone else's permission to (legally) live where she chooses is suspect.  Of course kids do run away from home and doing so is not a crime in either state, but harboring a runaway IS apparently a crime in Montana (I didn't check WA).

    Regarding the belongings:  the courts are not a quick and easy way to get justice and are generally not a practical way to address petty, small-dollar-value issues like this.  Even with small-claims court, after you get a judgment it's then up to you to try to enforce it.  It's a whole extra process to get a court order to garnish wages or "attach" property to force the defendant to actually pay the judgment, AND every state exempts certain property from being attached by creditors, so only if your Mom has more property than the WA exemptions can you even hope to collect.

    So knowing what's legal for your Mom or sister to do about the possessions is of little value when Mom is too upset to care what's legal - and it sounds like that describes Mom right now.

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