Welcome back and thanks for joining us again for this discussion about what happens when CPS tries to terminate your parental rights, and what you can do about it. In our previous article we looked at what your first steps should be when CPS threatened to take your children (or even if they already have!) and what that looks like. Moving on, we’re going to look at what happens next, and what your options are to fight this. Remember, it’s a long and arduous process. Nothing is solved overnight, especially when you’re dealing with the court system. But don’t give up – you don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) do this alone!
The next step in the parental termination process is a hearing
The next thing you should expect is the probable cause hearing. This is the first hearing in an neglect-abuse petition, which is what a CPS worker has filed against you. This is the hearing where the court will try to figure out whether there are grounds for terminating your parental rights. According to Michigan law, if CPS can show the court that by “a preponderance of the evidence” you are unfit, or unable, to care for your child, they can decide that you have no legal right to be that child’s parent. Then they can sever all legal ties between you and your kid.
What happens if the court decides you’re probably an unfit parent?
At this point, if the court determines that there’s probable cause, they’ll usually take temporary custody of your child (or children) until a trial can determine the final outcome. Your kids will be placed either with a family member or in temporary foster care until the final decision is made, which is the termination phase. This is the second phase in the case, when the court tries to determine whether or not it is in the best interest of your child to terminate your parental rights. It’s usually approached in the same way that a court determines custody issues during divorce – allowing the best interests of the child to determine the final outcome.
Another trial is needed to figure out the final decision
If the court takes jurisdiction after a trial (by a preponderance of the evidence) then they move on to a termination trial, which requires that CPS prove your guilt by “clear and convincing evidence.” At this point, if the court has decided that you’re unfit, they’ll order a termination of your parental rights, which gives them full legal custody of your kids. Once the court has custody of your children, and they’re placed in either a temporary or a permanent foster home, the state will start looking for a new guardian for them. At this point, a family member can petition for guardianship rights (which the court usually prefers because it lets the child stay with someone they already know who cares for them). Alternatively, they may be adopted by a foster parent.
This is going to be tough, but you aren’t alone in this fight!
We hope this breakdown of events has been helpful in revealing some of what this frightening process involves. However, having a rough understanding of it, and experiencing it on a personal level are two completely different things. So if you or a loved one are facing the possibility of parental termination in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys have spent decades defending parent’s rights in Michigan and keeping threatened families together. We can help you too.