Termination of Parental Rights
Have You Lost Your Parental Rights?
Any case involving Children’s Protective Services (CPS) can be very stressful and can drastically impact your life. One worst-case scenario in this type of case can be the court’s decision to terminate your parental rights. Termination of your parental rights means that you have no right to be a parent to your child for the rest of your life.
How Can You Fight The Termination Of Your Parental Rights?
Although terminating parental rights is the most extreme measure, it can happen. If you find yourself in this situation, it is extremely important to understand your rights under Michigan law. The first step in doing this is to understand Michigan’s Child Protection Law. The second step is to quickly secure experienced representation to help you fight for your rights. At The Kronzek Firm, our attorneys have been keeping families together in Michigan for years.
If you have lost your parental rights, you would need to immediately appeal the decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals or file for another post-judgment relief. This timeline is very short and with such high stakes, it is all the more important to hire capable representation.
If you don’t act immediately, you could permanently lose your rights. Once this happens, you cannot contact your children without permission. You are essentially cut out of your child’s life until they turn 18. Although you can contact the child when they turn 18, you will still not legally be considered their parent.
Termination Is A Threat Until The Case Is Closed
Termination of parental rights is the worst-case scenario for parents. Because it is a distressing situation, parents will often agree to any option that increases the likelihood they will keep their rights. One option can sometimes be to give jurisdiction over to the court on the promise that they will remove the request for immediate termination of parental rights.
Unfortunately, these workarounds may seem like a good idea at the time, but as long as the case is open, the threat to your rights exists.
Giving over jurisdiction to the court can be a good option for some, but it is definitely not for everyone. Agreeing to give up jurisdiction over your family doesn’t mean you can’t still have your rights terminated. In fact, if the prosecutor, the Guardian Ad Litem, CPS, or another parent thinks that things aren’t going well, they can file a Termination Petition.
If the Termination Petition is accepted, the parent(s) could be faced with a non-jury termination trial, meaning the judge gets to decide whether the parent(s) will retain their parental rights. The fact is that, until your case is closed, there will always be the possibility of parental termination. Because of this reality, it is very important to have a qualified, experienced CPS defense attorney on your team to handle these tough situations.
You Don’t Have the Right To Trial By Jury
The termination of parental rights is a decision made by a judge, not a jury. Michigan is very strict on this, and it can make it harder to win a termination case. In addition, since the standard rules of evidence do not apply in these termination trials, CPS will likely testify before the judge on even the most minor issues.
To combat this, you will need strong legal representation. A good CPS attorney will understand the applicable rules and be able to advocate for the best possible results.
Your Past is Always Relevant
It is well settled in Michigan Courts that how a parent treats one child can be used as evidence of how they may treat another child. This line of thinking of course can have drastic implications. If a parent loses parental rights to one child, it could put their rights to future children in jeopardy.
This means it’s entirely possible to lose rights to future children, even if the reason for losing rights to the other child is not present. Or, if a family has many children, but one child has unexplained injuries, it could mean that the rights over all children could be lost.
Remember, the decisions you make today can affect the retaining of your future rights. It is important to be aware of all past and future communications with people such as the police or CPS workers. Information given to these government authorities can be used against you.
Termination Is A Total Legal Separation from Your Child
You are not the only “loser” when it comes to the termination of parental rights. The child(ren) impacted is often left with many emotional issues that can range from mild to severe.
If your rights are terminated, you no longer have the right to care for, have custody of, or even have the companionship of your child. This is the case both in Michigan and Federal law. It will be considered as though you never had a child and your family will be forever severed.
How Criminal Law and Neglect/Abuse Law Interact
Often cases that warrant termination of parental rights also lead to criminal charges. This is because these cases are often accompanied by allegations of child abuse or neglect. These charges can lead to criminal prosecutions and could result in incarceration.
At The Kronzek Firm, our team is large enough to have attorneys that focus on specialized areas of the law such as criminal defense and CPS defense. We often have more than one of our attorneys working on a case, which means you can have multiple charges covered by one firm, and still have specialized care on each issue.
Constitutional Protections In A Neglect/Abuse Case in Michigan
A neglect/abuse case is a civil proceeding. Because it is not a criminal proceeding, some of the Constitutional rights you are aware of do not apply. One example is your Miranda Rights. A CPS investigator is not required to advise you of your rights, and they cannot arrest you. This means you must be careful of what is said to an investigator because it will likely be admissible in court and/or police officers.
If you are questioned as a witness in court, it is still possible to plead the Fifth Amendment and remain silent. That is your right and should be used if you and your attorney decide it is necessary to protect yourself. For further information on your rights, you should speak with your CPS attorney so they can give you the best options for your specific case.
Time Is Of The Essence In A Neglect/Abuse Case
Once a court has taken jurisdiction of a family in Michigan, there are laws placing time limits on how long a case can be open. This is why many CPS attorneys advise against waiting to file a CPS petition. Immediate action is necessary if your family has been separated.
While CPS may assert that they want to reunify the family, this goal is not always accomplished. If CPS workers don’t put forth a service plan or Parent Agency Agreement and instruct parent(s) on what services need to be completed, this can make it look like the family is not improving.
If the court does not believe parents are making progress toward resolving problems in the family, they may decide the best course of action is to terminate the parental rights. The CPS process is complicated and stressful, and it is not something you should deal with alone.
Reuniting Families – It’s What We Do
MDHHS and CPS are often quick to question the motives of parents, and by the time they ask questions, they have already determined the parents are guilty. Often attorneys shy away from aggressive CPS workers and medical professionals are quick to comply with their demands.
The number of obstacles parents can face in the courtroom are many. A case dealing with the termination of parental rights is always an uphill battle, and a tough attorney is necessary to handle the intimidating obstacles you are faced with. This is especially relevant if you are dealing with an appeal of your termination of parental rights.
As a general rule appeals are difficult to win, as such, it is best to avoid termination in the first place. This is why it is critical to find an experienced attorney to fight for you. Many parents are not familiar with the difference between a trial process and the appeal process, but fear not! Our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of CPS cases and can carefully walk you through each step. We are here to advocate for you and guide you.
Here at The Kronzek Firm, we value family and will work aggressively to keep yours together. We have helped countless families in Lansing and Detroit deal with difficult CPS cases.
Remember, time is of the essence. If you are currently facing termination, think you may be facing termination, or have recently lost your parental rights, contact us right away. We are available 24/7 for an online screening or phone consultation. Call us at (866) 766-5245.