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Under Michigan law, a parent doesn’t lose the right to be a parent, or have contact with their children, simply because they are serving a prison sentence. In 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court filed an opinion making it illegal for CPS to terminate a parent’s rights to their child simply because they’re behind bars. This was the direct result of a highly controversial case where CPS workers terminated a father’s rights to his children just because he was in jail at the time. Although the termination order was reversed in the end, it caused a huge scandal that cast CPS in a very damaging light.
So exactly what rights do incarcerated parents have in Michigan?
Parents who are serving time, whether they’re in jail or in prison, have certain rights here in Michigan. One of those rights is that they cannot have their parental rights terminated, just because they happen to be behind bars. Another has to do with parental hearings, and the fact that parents must be notified of all hearings that pertain to their children, and they are allowed to participate in every single hearing that affects their parental rights.
Parents have a right to participate in ALL of their parental hearings.
Under MCR 2.004, a parent has the right to participate in each and every hearing held by the court, that could affect their parenting rights. Even incarcerated parents have the right to attend these hearings if they choose to. (You may not be able to be physically present, but many courts will set up phone or video conferencing to allow you to listen in and participate in the hearing.) Failure to notify parents of when and where the hearings are taking place is a violation of their rights. And CPS is NOT allowed to violate a parent’s rights!
What if CPS wants to terminate your parental rights while you’re incarcerated?
CPS workers may attempt to terminate your parental rights while you’re behind bars, but in order to do so, they have to prove three things first.
- That your imprisonment will result in your children not having a normal home for at least 2 years.
- That you’re unable to provide proper care and custody for your children.
- That you likely won’t be able to properly provide for your child in a reasonable time.
Parents who set up guardianship for their children, or arrange with relatives to have their children cared for while they are behind bars usually don’t have these issues with the court.
Don’t let CPS walk all over you! Fight for your kids!
If you’re a parent and you were recently arrested, or you expect to be arrested soon, know that you have rights. We can help you protect those rights, and fight to keep your children from being sucked into the foster system. the state may try to terminate your parental rights while you’re behind bars, so call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 immediately. Our skilled and compassionate CPS defense attorneys are standing by, 24/7 to help you through this difficult time!