Cleveland Family Law Attorneys

Father Abducts His Child From The Custody Of Ohio Grandparents

The abduction of a child is one of the worst fears for a parent. This fear recently came true, not for the parents of a child, but for a child’s grandparents. Recently, Ohio grandparents, Jeff Ensor and Kathy McKinney experienced their worst fear when their grandchild was suddenly abducted in Huber Heights. What makes this story even more confounding is that the abductor was the child’s father.

Garland Banister’s three-year-old daughter had been staying with the child’s grandparents. Banister does not have custody of his daughter. Banister went to the grandparents’ home, where Banister is not allowed, and took his daughter from the grandparents’ backyard. The abduction, which occurred in Huber Heights, triggered an Amber Alert.

Criminal History Of Child’s Parents

Immediately after the abduction, the grandparents filed charges against the father because he does not have custody of the child. Both the child’s father and mother have a protection order in place. According to the police, the father has a violent history, including a past criminal history of attempted murder. According to records, the father was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to five years in prison.

At the time of the abduction, the mother had been in jail on drug-related charges for using heroin at a fast-food restaurant. Police arrested the mother for driving under the influence of her daughter in the car. Police charged the mother with disorderly conduct and child endangerment. The mother pleaded guilty to child endangerment and has been sentenced to 180 days in jail. As a result of the father’s and the mother’s prior history, the child had been staying in the custody of her grandparents.

Child In The Process Of Return To Grandparents’ Custody

The grandparents, however, are now in the process to get back custody of their grandchild. The same day of the abduction, police in Brownsburg, Indiana found Banister talking on a cellphone in a Walmart parking lot. Brownsburg police arrested Banister on a warrant for child abduction. The child remained in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services. The grandparents are working with officials to bring the child back home to Ohio. The parents had to go to Indiana and obtain an emergency custody order. The child is staying with grandparents, but they only have verbal permission to care for their grandchild.

How Can Grandparents Obtain Custody Of Their Grandchildren?

Under Ohio law, a grandparent (or another individual) may petition a court to have the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the child. A court will award these rights only if the court finds that parents are unsuitable. Given the situation with Banister's abduction, it is apparent that the parents had been unsuitable to raise their child. A grandparent or other guardian may also obtain certain parental rights for the child if one or both of the parents sign a power of attorney form. This gives a guardian certain rights in the child’s care, physical custody, and control, including rights to make certain educational and medical decisions.

If you have any questions regarding a grandparent’s child custody rights, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney.