This is for a fiction novel. I want the scenario to be realistic so would love your opinions! I’ve tried to be brief, but this is a messy situation in a young adult mystery.
A married couple, Patrick and Mattie, had a child, Raina, in Georgia. When Raina was two years old, Mattie left town with her without telling Patrick. Mattie took Raina to Texas. Mattie never filed for a divorce. Patrick, a sheriff in a very small town, never filed a criminal complaint against Mattie. Patrick just looked for them himself and was unable to find them until Mattie died 14 years later. Mattie left a will stating that custody of then 16-year-old Raina would go to a friend of hers, Katherine. Patrick finds out where Raina is after Mattie’s death and wants her back.
Currently, I just have a lawyer showing up at Katherine’s house about a week after Mattie’s funeral. The lawyer says Raina has to go with him back to Patrick. They haven’t gotten a judge involved yet because this lawyer thinks it is very clear cut. Patrick never gave up custody. Raina has a living biological parent, so she must go to that parent. Katherine doesn’t see any point in contesting this, thinking they have no chance of winning. Neither Katherine nor Raina knows why Mattie left Patrick, but they figure she had some good reason… or maybe not because she did die of a brain tumor.
My writers group (none lawyers) thinks this isn’t plausible. They think that Mattie’s will gives Katherine some legal leverage and that Raina, at 16, would have some input on what happens to her. I would also like to support the scenario with plausible details to add realism.
1. Is there any way Mattie could hide herself and Raina without going to police/judge or spending a ton of money? Could she just get a Texas driver’s license and then a US passport under her maiden name? File for a legal name change? She doesn’t have to hide too well. The story should cause the reader to think Patrick wasn’t trying too hard to find them for some unknown reason. Whatever way she hides should allow for Patrick finding out where Raina is after Mattie’s death. If it isn’t possible, I could have Patrick knowing but not doing much about it until the death, but I prefer the original scenario.
2. Would Katherine have a good chance of getting legal custody of Raina if she went to court? Would she be going to court in Texas or Georgia?
1 Answer from Attorneys
This site is to help people who have real legal issues and are looking to get direction towards a solution. It is not for hypotheticals. What you need is to retain a lawyer for a couple hours or so to look over your writing and suggest changes. If you have faith in your novel and expect to profit from it, that small cost. will make it more likely that your novel will do well. BTW, most of what you wrote is completely legally implausable, so you need that consult badly.