What You Need to Know About Fighting Termination of Parental Rights in Michigan
The court terminates parental rights in extreme cases when it is beneficial for the child. Here’s how to fight the termination of parental rights in Michigan.
A Michigan court may terminate parental rights if the parent has endangered, deserted, neglected, or severely abused their child. When parental rights end, the court no longer views the parent as having parental rights or physical child custody. A parent can terminate parental rights voluntarily and involuntarily in Michigan.
Common Reasons for Terminating Parental Rights
Because the consequences of terminating parental rights are permanent and severe, courts must have strong reason to revoke all parental rights.
Reasons for termination of parental rights include:
- A parent has abandoned the child
- A parent has threatened the well-being of the child
- A parent has been incarcerated
- A parent has abused or neglected the child
- The child is an adjudicated dependent
- When a parent has had other children involuntarily removed from their care or has had parental rights over other children involuntarily removed.
Process of Fighting Termination of Parental Rights in Michigan
If a parent wants to appeal a termination of parental rights in Michigan, they must appeal the judge’s decision immediately since there is a short window of time to appeal a judge’s decision after a hearing. Michigan’s Child Protective Services (CPS) will assist a parent who wants to appeal for involuntary termination of parental rights. Parents in this legal battle should hire an appeals attorney experienced with CPS battles.
Failure to act promptly against the ruling will result in permanent and irrevocable termination of parental rights. When the court terminates parental rights, the former parent is no longer allowed to contact the child without legal permission. The parent is eliminated from the child’s life until they turn 18. Once the child becomes a legal adult, the parent can contact them but will not be the child’s parent.
There is no jury. Michigan law is strict on not allowing a jury to determine parental rights termination. Because there is no jury, it is more difficult for a parent to win the appeal for termination of parental rights case. Unlike criminal cases, a case determining to terminate a parent’s rights is finalized by a judge. CPS will report all issues caused by the parent on trial, no matter how minor. Since the judge is constantly reminded of the parent’s failings, it is difficult for them to revoke the termination.
Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
A parent may terminate their parental rights voluntarily and involuntarily.
Voluntary termination of parental rights does not signify a parent is obligated to abandon their child due to lack of care. However, a parent cannot simply relinquish their parental rights to abandon their legal requirement to provide and care for the child financially. The only justifiable reason for a parent to voluntarily terminate their parental rights is for an adoption proceeding.
Under Michigan’s Juvenile Code, the court may terminate a parent’s rights involuntarily. Another party must file a legal action requesting termination of a parent’s legal rights due to a valid cause of action.
Related: Michigan Child Custody FAQs
Regarding adoption, a parent may have their parental rights involuntarily removed if a parent and stepparent are seeking to adopt the child and the other parent refuses to relinquish their legal rights voluntarily. For the other parent to prevent the termination, they can allege that it is not in the child’s best interest to end the parent-child relationship.
One can also take action with the court to terminate a parent’s legal rights based on child endangerment. The Department of Human Services or another state agency files an action seeking to terminate parental rights based on allegations of neglect, abandonment, or abuse.