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I bought a phone and have since let my minor cousin use the phone. Her mother has taken the phone and I told her that it is my property and needs to be returned to either me or her daughter or I will report it stolen. I specified from the start that her daughter could use the phone for any instance unless I (a) took it back, or (b) anyone else tried to take it from her; because I bought it and I have the receipt for it and it is mine. I especially didn’t want her mother or step father to take it for their own personal gain, which they have done in the past. Again, the phone is MY property. I said her daughter could use it under my rules.

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  • 1
    Does this answer your question? In the USA, do parents have the right to control their children's possessions? Nov 26, 2023 at 19:15
  • 4
    That wouldn’t answer the question. Because OP seems to be the legitimate owner.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 26, 2023 at 21:43
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    Alice is a minor. Bob is Alice's legal guardian. Charlie gives/loans an item to Alice which Bob deems unsuitable for a minor of Alice's age. Three questions here: Can Bob take the item from Alice? Yes. Can Bob keep the item for his personal benefit? No. To what lengths does Bob have to go to ascertain actual ownership and to return the item to Charlie? There is the issue here.
    – o.m.
    Nov 27, 2023 at 21:01
  • Did you explicitly state that if she returned the phone to you, you would not give it again to your cousin? Otherwise she might object that you are interfering with a minor's education.
    – FluidCode
    Nov 30, 2023 at 14:41
  • @FluidCode Are you suggesting that would provide a legal basis to deprive OP of their property?
    – Michael
    Nov 30, 2023 at 22:55

2 Answers 2

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Your cousin's mother is entitled to restrict what items her minor child can access (in this case, your phone). So you cannot insist that she return your phone to your cousin but you can insist that your phone be returned to you, as at no point has it ceased to be your property.

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As guardians, your cousin's parents may take away property from their child. However, under the terms of the bailment, they must immediately return it to you if they do so.

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