Although it is typically only used in extreme cases and as a last resort, the termination of parental rights in Michigan does occur. Terminating parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary, and it can be a precursor to a child’s adoption or a drastic measure to remove a child from a dangerous environment. On rare occasions, a parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights in the best interest of the child.
In any case, the termination of parental rights in Michigan is a legal process and requires the assistance of a family lawyer with experience in this very specific and sensitive area of law.
At Kreis Enderle, our Michigan family law attorneys understand the complex nature of these cases. The safety and welfare of your children are our top priority. Whether you suspect a parent of child abuse or neglect or you have been wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect, we can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Common Reasons for the Termination of Parental Rights
As stated above, parental termination can be voluntary or involuntary, and it can even occur without the presence of abuse or neglect, such as in adoption. However, some of the most common reasons for the termination of parental rights include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect. Parental rights may be terminated in the case of:
- Severe or ongoing physical abuse.
- Any act of sexual abuse.
- Severe or ongoing psychological or extreme emotional damage.
- Failure to provide adequate shelter, nutrition, or other basic care.
- Child abandonment.
- A felony conviction of a parent for a crime of violence against any family member.
- A felony conviction of a parent who is the child’s sole source of care.
- Severe and long-term mental illness of a parent.
- Severe and long-term alcohol or drug addiction of a parent.
- Failure to provide education.
- Giving birth to multiple drug-affected children.
- Voluntary relinquishment of parental rights.
The above list is not exhaustive. Any egregious or abhorrent conduct that could severely impact a child’s health, safety, or well-being may be grounds for termination of parental rights. In some cases — particularly with older children — the child’s preference may also be a factor in determining whether to terminate parental rights.
Child Custody Vs. Parental Rights
Having legal or physical custody taken away is not the same as the termination of parental rights. When someone’s parental rights are terminated, they no longer have any legal ties to the child, whereas a parent must still support their child after having custody removed. Furthermore, while custody can be reinstated, the termination of parental rights is permanent.
Terminating Parental Rights Under the Adoption Code in MI
In Michigan, there are two methods of terminating parental rights — the Adoption Code and the Juvenile Code. To make a child available for adoption, the birth parents’ parental rights will first be terminated. Sometimes this is done by consent, and other times, it must be contested. If, for example, a stepparent wishes to adopt their stepchild, the birth parent in question must consent to the termination. Otherwise, the birth parent’s parental rights must be contested, and the birth parent must not have had contact with the child for at least two years.
Terminating Parental Rights Under the Juvenile Code in MI
When parental rights are being terminated due to abuse or neglect, the case is handled by the Juvenile Court, and the petition for termination is typically completed by the Department of Human Services and the prosecutor’s office. Depending on the type and severity of the situation, the court may give the parent the opportunity to resolve the problem.
If your child is enrolled or eligible for enrollment with a federally recognized tribe, please contact our office.
Contact Kreis Enderle Today
Whether you are a parent who wishes to terminate the rights of another parent due to abuse or neglect, or you are being wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect, it is in your best interest to seek immediate counsel from an experienced Michigan family lawyer. When the safety and welfare of a child are in question, there is no time to delay action. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.