Family Runs into Problems Getting Help with Custody.Posted: Updated:
Yakima, WA - A little girl ripped away from her grandmother's care despite temporary custody and a restraining order, but The Yakima Sheriff's Office says they can't do anything yet.
Custody situations like this can be very confusing for families. You may have a document like a restraining order, but it doesn't necessarily offer all the protection you think.
"By the time I could get there, grab my cell phone, they already had her in one of the cars and drove off," says Judy Floresca.
This happened last Friday afternoon when she and her granddaughter were coming home from school.
"About a week ago," says Gabriel Stevens.
That's the last time he saw his eight-year-old daughter. KNDO is protecting her identity.
Stevens says the girl's mother gave him custody in August, but showed up unannounced to take her back.
The girl was staying with her grandmother because Stevens works construction during the week and is not home.
"There's nothing I can do in this situation. I'd like to get some legal help," he says.
A sheriff's deputy arrived at Floresca's house several hours after the incident, but told her he can't do anything despite documents showing temporary custody and a restraining order.
"He said it wasn't a legal document," says Floresca.
She and her son went to get their document certified today. When they went back to the Sheriff's Office, they were told to get a court order.
They were hoping to avoid this because they didn't want the girl to be put in foster care.
"Because there is no language directing law enforcement to stand by or take pre-emptive measures in the document, we can't act," says YSO Chief David Thompson.
He went on to say that even if they removed the girl from the mother's care on Friday, she still has to go into foster care until a judge decides on custody in a hearing.
The good news, and what Floresca and Stevens did not know, these hearings are typically done within a day.
Not weeks or months like many other legal disputes.