Setting: Modern-day New York, centralized in New York City (Manhattan); fandom is White Collar, if it helps
Searched: variations of nonviolent offender, parole, felon, and child custody
My character is a man convicted of a non-violent felony, currently on a work-release parole working for the FBI as a criminal consultant. His girlfriend gave birth to their child (yes it's his, there will be mentions of paternity tests) at a hospital, gave the doctors contact information for the father's FBI handler, then took off. Neither of them have any family or living relatives.
I am trying to find a way for him to legally be taking care of the child, and I would like to avoid handwaving it away as much as possible. I tried looking up how this situation would play out, but just about every search led to questions of visitation rights, whether men on parole could have any form of joint custody with their children and the extent of their visitation rights, always under the assumption of the kids being with their mother.
I'm assuming that because the CI is still technically in someone else's custody, he can't have complete custody of the child on his own.
1.) Is my assumption unfounded - can he straight up have full custody of the child? (What about the mother? There is no way to contact her, so does she get any custodial rights? Would she not get any due to not being present, or would her leaving the baby behind at the hospital be legally read as giving up all custodial rights to the child? While she never gave her information, the CI and his FBI handler know who she is - can they put her name on the birth certificate?)
2.) If the CI can't have legal custody of his child, who can? As mentioned, he has no family for the baby to go to. The CI's landlady is very close to him, and in the context of the story willing to either adopt the child or hold custody of the child until the CI is off parole. If neither of those are possible for her to get custody of the child, she is also willing to adult-adopt the CI, thereby becoming the infant's legal grandmother - would that allow her legal custody?
3.) Any other suggestions? The fandom's canon does a lot of law-bending and cover-ups, so I can handwave my way through it, but I would really, really, REALLY rather not. The main goal here is for the father to be taking care of the infant, something fairly simple which is really only complicated by his current criminal status.
The father, as mentioned, is VERY non-violent (he's noted in canon for having a strong aversion to violence despite his circumstances). He lives in a very good neighborhood, in a very nice house (mansion, actually, with lots of staff on hand - most likely a nanny of some sort would be employed for the times when the landlady and the father are at work/doing whatever). If Child Protection Services comes by to evaluate him, they will probably like what they see. The mother and father are not married; that said, the child was conceived in a conjugal visit in prison (achieved via nondescript rule-bending/law-breaking on various characters' parts).
For anyone familiar with the fandom, the mother is Kate, and this takes place around mid-to-late Season 1.
- Non-Violent Felon on Parole, Child Custody