I have a character with a little back-story I'd like to dribble in here and there as we go.
I have something sort of specific in mind, and it makes sense for the character, but it doesn't seem like something that would really happen in the world, and I'd like to find a way to make it make sense.
The back-story is basically this;
My protagonist is currently around age 20 and it's the early 90s. She has a 5 year-old son. She and her son live in a dilapidated house in the sticks. The house is the same one she lived in with her parents, who died while she was pregnant with her son.
I can change the ages a little, but don't want to very much. If anything, I'd like the child to be a bit older which makes her pregnant younger. So my timeline requires that her pregnancy was around age 14 in the mid 80s. So I have a 14 year-old who lives in a house by herself for 5 years or so while raising a baby. No family. No guardian present. Perhaps some help from social services or something. Mostly her working, using the bit of money that was left to her, raising the baby and holding it together as best she can.
This seems pretty unlikely (though I could be wrong), and I'm not sure how to make it happen.
I assume it will brush up against laws and procedures from social services, and laws on guardianship, employment, education (earliest age you can legally drop out, get a GED, etc.), emancipation, probate, etc. during the 80s. I believe most of these laws vary from state to state (perhaps county to county), and there's a little flexibility on where they live. Ideally in the south; Florida, Alabama, around that area.
I'm a bit new to research in general and not quite sure where to start. I'd like to be a little efficient - I can't read every law-book from every county the 80s on social services and child welfare and how much leeway a judge has in deciding what happens to someone in this situation. I'm having a little trouble deciding which thread to pull first.
When you have something like this, how do you start?