Termination of Parental Rights
Have you Lost Parental Rights to Your Children?
A CPS (Children’s Protective Services) case in Michigan can dramatically alter your life. One of the worst-case outcomes of a CPS case is that they terminate your parental rights.
This means they take away your children and your right to be a parent for the rest of your life. If you are facing the possibility of termination of parental rights, it is extremely important for you to understand your rights under Michigan law.
What You Can Do to Fight a Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)
Although a TPR is seen as an extreme measure, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is not afraid to pursue this option. CPS is a division of DHHS. If a parent wants to fight a TPR case, they must act immediately.
If your parental rights have already been terminated by order of a court, this would require appealing the judge’s decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals or filing for other post-judgment relief.
Failure to act immediately could mean permanent termination of parental rights. Once parental rights are permanently revoked, parents are not allowed to contact their children without permission. Basically, parents are completely cut out of the child’s life.
Reuniting Your Family
Being separated from your child will be a very traumatic experience for both you and your child. Appealing a termination of parental rights (TPR) decision is often an uphill battle.
The parent has already lost and it will take a lot of work to get the appeals court to change that decision. However, it is certainly not impossible to reunite the family. It will be very important for the parents to find great, experienced appellate attorneys for the best chance of a successful outcome.
At The Kronzek Firm, we offer experienced trial and appellate counsel to help you get your kids back. When you meet with us, we will help create an appellate strategy to try to recover your lost rights.
There are many different factors that the appellate court will be looking at to decide on a TPR case. In addition, many parents aren’t clear on the difference between the trial process and the appeal process. Our attorneys are well-versed in the appeals process, so we will carefully walk you through every step.
Your time is limited. If you are facing or think you may be facing termination of your parental rights, or if you have recently lost your parental rights, it is vital that you contact us right away. Fill out our contact form and schedule an immediate consultation. You can also call our office at 1-866-766-5245 and discuss your appeals options with one of our expert attorneys.
Criminal Law and Neglect/Abuse Law Can Affect Each Other
Cases that are serious enough to warrant termination of parental rights often also lead to criminal charges. Parental termination often results from alleged child abuse, sexual abuse, or even educational abuse. All of these charges could lead to criminal prosecutions.
Occasionally, prosecutors allow a Neglect/Abuse case to run its course before deciding on whether or not to file criminal charges. Most criminal charges could result in jail or prison. When The Kronzek Firm works with a parent that is involved with both a CPS and a criminal case, it is common for us to have more than one of our attorneys working with our client.
That’s because our team of attorneys have experience in very specific areas of the law. You might think of this like you would think about seeing a specialist doctor for a specific medical problem rather than your family doctor.
Constitutional Protections in a Neglect/Abuse Case
A Neglect/Abuse case is a civil, not criminal, proceeding. Because it is not a criminal proceeding, many of your constitutional rights do not apply, such as your Miranda rights. A CPS investigator will not arrest or detain you, and it is not required to advise you of your rights.
Still, you should be careful of what you say to an investigator because your words will likely be admissible in court. Moreover, you might be questioned as a witness in court. It is possible for you to plead the Fifth Amendment and stay silent and that is often a great option. You will have to discuss with your advising attorney the best options for your specific case.
Time Can Work Against You in a Neglect/Abuse Case
Michigan law places time limits on how long a case can stay open. This means that if a family has been separated, they may be separated forever if they do not remedy the situation. Many attorneys advise against waiting for the filing of a CPS petition, even if it is defensible.
The idea is to allow DHHS to take over the situation and provide its services, presumably to help reunify the family. However, this can sometimes be a bad option. Sometimes, CPS workers don’t try to reunify the family they are working with and don’t put forth a service plan or Parent Agency Agreement. This can make it look like the family is not improving.
If this is the case, the court may grow impatient and decide that the best course of action is termination of parental rights. Navigating the CPS process and agreements with CPS is difficult and tricky. There is much at stake. An experienced CPS defense lawyer is always a good choice.
Termination is a Threat Until the Case is Closed
Termination of parental rights is a scary possibility for any parent. Because this can be so serious, parents are often quick to agree to any option that seems like an easy way out. For instance, giving jurisdiction to the Court can mean that the government will remove the request for immediate termination of parental rights.
This can be a good option for some, but certainly not for everyone. Moreover, making this agreement doesn’t mean that the parents won’t still get their rights terminated. In fact if DHHS, the prosecutor, the Guardian Ad Litem, or even another parent thinks that things aren’t going well, they can file a Termination Petition.
If the Petition is accepted, the parent(s) may face a non-jury termination trial. Until your case is closed, you will always face the possibility of parental termination. This is why it is so important to get a qualified CPS defense attorney on your side who has experience helping parents out of these kinds of tough situations.
You Do Not Have the Right to a Jury Trial
Termination of parental rights is always decided by a judge, not a jury – Michigan law is very strict on this point. This can make it more difficult for a parent to win a termination case. CPS will constantly be reporting to the judge, even on issues that seem minor.
Because the judge will constantly be reminded of the inadequacy of a parent, they may decide on parental termination. You will need great representation from your attorney to be able to combat this. Every time DHHS reports to the court, you will need to make sure you are being favorably represented to the court too.
Your Past is Always Relevant
How a parent treated one child can be used as evidence for how the parent will likely treat another child. This concept was really brought to light with the two early cases: In re Dittrick and In re LeFlure.
What kind of implications does this kind of thinking have? Well, if a parent lost parental rights because of a serious, yet unexplained set of fractures in an infant, then this could put into jeopardy the ability to have and keep children in the future.
This could be the case even if nothing ever happens to the future children. Another example could be a family that has many children already, but one child had unexplained injuries. It could then be possible for the parents to lose rights over all the children, rather than just the one.
You will have to take many considerations into account if you are facing a child neglect/abuse case. The decisions you make today can and will affect your possibilities in the future. Hiring an experienced and aggressive CPS defense attorney today will not only give you the greatest chance of success for your situation, but it will also help future allegations turn out a bit more smoothly.
You should also consider all past and future contacts with government authorities such as police or CPS workers. Any information that you give to these agencies can be used against you. The last thing to keep in mind is that a child neglect/abuse case can affect the whole family. You will need an attorney that is committed to do everything possible to help keep your family united.
Termination is Total Legal Separation from Your Child
There are no winners when it comes to termination of parental rights. The child is often left with severe psychological issues, with feelings of abandonment and resentment. If you are the parent, you are left as though you never had a child in the first place – however, you may still have to pay child support.
You are cut off from your child. This means you no longer have the right to the companionship, care, custody and management of your child. This is true for both Michigan and Federal law. Your child will also be cut off from inheriting your estate. Losing your parental rights will sever your family forever.
You Need a Parent Advocate
The Department of Health and Human Services and CPS are quick to question parental motives and decisions in the name of “child protection.” By the time many of these workers get around to questioning the parents, they have already decided that the parents are guilty of something.
Attorneys often shy away from aggressive CPS workers, while doctors and medical professionals are quick to comply with the demands of CPS. In the courtroom, the number of obstacles the parent has to overcome seems almost endless.
Here at The Kronzek Firm PLC, we value family and will work hard to try to keep yours together. We have helped countless parents out of difficult and even hostile CPS cases, and our assertive attorneys are ready to help you next.
If you are afraid of losing your parental rights, call us today! We are available 24/7 for an online screening or phone consultation. Call us at 1-866-766-5245.