24-Hour Child Abuse and Neglect
(330) 434-KIDS (5437)

Summit County
Children Services

264 S. Arlington St.
Akron, OH 44306
Phone: 330.379.9094
Fax: 330.379.1901
Hearing Impaired: ORS 7-1-1

Kinship Care - Legal

Legal Overview

Becoming a kinship caregiver can result in numerous feelings such as happiness, relief, anger, disappointment, and frustration. Coupled with these feelings, can also be confusion regarding the legal system, and how it pertains to your situation. It is always recommended that kinship caregivers consult with an attorney regarding their specific legal situation, but the following information may be helpful in sorting through some of the legal terms, definitions, and courts that you may encounter in the future.

Legal Responsibilities

As you raise the children in your care, you probably have your hands full. You’re doing your best to care for the children each day. Lawyers – and, in fact, the whole legal system – may be the last thing you want to think about. These concerns are legitimate, but the truth is you will probably have to use the legal system, and possibly, the services of a lawyer, if you continue to raise the children in your care. You will have to take some steps to keep the children safe and secure. You will probably need legal papers just to get them medical care or enroll them in school. You may also need legal help to plan for their future or to keep them safe from harm. There will be decisions you will have to make which will require sound legal advice.

Please refer to the following information when attempting to contact any of the following legal courts, agencies or programs.

Custody Options

You could get a custody order. This means that you would be responsible for the child’s day-to-day care. The parents would continue to have a legal relationship with the child. They would have a right to visit (unless the judge says they cannot) and could someday ask a judge to give custody back to them.

You could become the child’s legal guardian. Like a custody order, becoming a legal guardian means day-to-day responsibility for the child, while the parents keep some rights. The main difference is that guardianship is usually granted in a different court, with different rules.

You could adopt the child. You would become the child’s legal parent in every way. The legal relationship between the child and the child’s birth parents would end, and you would decide if and when they visit. The birth parents would never again have the right to ask a judge to send the children back to them.

Summit County Court of Common Pleas Divisions:

Domestic Relations Court
209 S. High Street
Akron, OH 44308
PHONE: (330) 643-2365
WEBSITE: www.drcourt.org

Purpose: Handles cases of divorce, legal separation, custody (in situations where the parents were married), and domestic violence among household members.

Juvenile Court
650 Dan Street
Akron, OH 44310
PHONE: (330) 643-2900
WEBSITE: http://www.co.summit.oh.us/JuvenileCourt/

Purpose: Handles cases regarding dependency, neglect, abuse, custody (in situations where the parents were not married, or the parents/guardians were involved with Summit County Children Services due to dependency, neglect, and/or abuse), delinquency, unruly, child support, the establishment of a parent-child relationship (commonly known as paternity, or in rare cases, maternity), and traffic (for juveniles).

Probate Court
209 S. High Street
Akron, OH 44308
PHONE: (330) 643-2350
WEBSITE: http://summitohioprobate.com

Purpose: Handles guardianships, adoptions, administration of estates, name changes, and marriage licenses.

Locating an Attorney/Legal Assistance

Akron Bar Association (Covers Summit County)
7 W. Bowery Street
Akron, OH 44308
PHONE: (330) 253-5007
FAX: (330) 253-2140

Purpose: Handles notary services, complaints/grievances, fee disputes with an attorney, and attorney referrals.

Attorney Referral Service (Covers Summit, Portage, and Wayne Counties)
PHONE: (330) 253-5038
FAX: (330) 434-4759

Community Legal Aid Services (formerly known as Western Reserve Legal Services)
265 S. Main Street
Akron, OH 44308
PHONE: (330) 535-4191
FAX: (330) 535-0728

Purpose:  Provides assistance regarding domestic relations issues (custody, visitation, divorce, dissolutions, child support collection, paternity suits), and civil issues (landlord problems, consumer problems, and welfare/food stamp problems). Also assists senior citizens (over 60 years of age) with certain legal matters. No assistance regarding criminal issues is provided. Eligibility for services is based on income.

*Information courtesy of The Ohio Kinship Care Resource Guide.