Guardian ad Litem and Kids’ Voice “transformed the world” of a 16-year-old girl and her son.
In the fall of 2016, Kids’ Voice was appointed as Guardian ad Litem for a 16-year-old child named Annie. Annie, a young mother herself, had been bouncing between different homes for several years, as neither of her parents were providing a home for her. After giving birth to her own child, Annie began having significant health problems that required surgery. However, neither of her parents were willing to sign the required documents for her to get Medicaid, and the hospital would not perform the surgery without proof of insurance. Being the resourceful and resilient young lady that she is, Annie reached out to the Court directly and asked to be emancipated. That’s when Kids’ Voice was appointed to investigate. Given the many issues involved, a Kids’ Voice staff member served as Annie’s Guardian ad Litem.
During her investigation, the GAL discovered that since 2012, Annie had lived in a few different places, including with a lady named Valerie and her family. Valerie had consistently provided support for Annie and maintained close contact with her even during the brief periods when Annie returned to live with her mother and with her boyfriend’s parents. The GAL also learned that both Mother and Father had criminal histories, including recent incidents, and that Annie had frequently witnessed domestic violence and substance abuse as a child. The GAL was never able to reach the parents during the investigation.
Even though Annie has consistently worked to provide for herself and her child, and it was clear to the GAL that she is much more mature than the average 16 year old, Kids’ Voice did not believe that she met the legal standard for being emancipated. Annie is still in the process of finishing high school, and she would not be able to focus on that if she was out on her own and having to work more to provide for herself and her baby. The GAL also recognized the support and care Valerie had steadily been providing for Annie over the last 4 and a half years.
Ultimately, the GAL recommended that Valerie become Annie’s third-party custodian. Both Valerie and Annie agreed that this was best. The Court also agreed and ordered the custody modification. We believe that this was the best possible outcome as now Valerie can continue providing Annie and her baby with a stable, loving home. She also now has the legal authority to ensure that Annie has access to all of the educational and healthcare services she needs. More importantly, this solution gave Annie the opportunity to regain some semblance of a childhood. She also was able to have surgery and is now in great health!
Annie said at the end of the case, “I thank you [Kids’ Voice] with everything in me. You guys transformed my world and have made a clean pathway for me to take my son down so he’ll never have to see or hear the things I did. Just know I love you guys so much and I’m so blessed to have such good people in my life. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything all because of you!”