Having your parental rights terminated is one of the most frightening and heartbreaking things a parent can endure. However many people have no idea how this process happens, or what to expect if they are caught up in the middle of it. Here we have provided a basic breakdown, start to finish, of the order of vents in a standard involuntary termination of parental rights.
1. Allegations Of Abuse:
The first step is the abuse report – either someone reports to the police or to DHS that a child is being abused and provides what substantiating evidence they can with regard to the allegations.
CPS opens an investigation into the allegations and attempts to determine whether or not the allegations are based on fact or not. If they determine that the claims of abuse or neglect can be substantiated, an abuse/neglect petition is filed with the court. It is important to remember that this only happens if the abuse is a category 1 or 2. If not CPS sometimes handles the case out of court and monitors the situation , or provides services to the family.
3. Probable Cause Hearing:
The probable cause hearing is the first hearing in an neglect-abuse petition. This is when the court will attempt to determine whether or not there are grounds for termination. This is done by providing the court with “clear and convincing evidence” that the parent in question is unfit, or unable, to care for their child.
4. Temporary Jurisdiction:
At this point, if the court has determined that there is probable cause, the court will usually take temporary custody of the child or children in question until a trial can determine the final outcome. The child or children are placed either with a family member or in temporary foster care.
5. Termination Trial:
This is the second phase in the case, during which time the court attempts to determine whether or not it is in the best interest of the child to terminate. It is 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 determination.
6. Termination Of Parental Rights:
If the court determines by that the parent is unfit or unable to care for the child, and it is in the best interests of the child to end the parent-child relationship, the court will order a termination of parental rights. This happens at a termination trial, which requires clear and convincing evidence.
7. Child Placement:
At this point the court has full legal custody of the child or children, and they are placed in either a temporary or a permanent foster home. The state will begin to actively seek out a new guardian for the child or children. A family member can at this point petition the court for guardianship rights, which in many cases the court prefers, as it allows the child an opportunity to be with someone that they may have a prior emotional bond with. Alternatively, the child may be adopted by a foster parent.
We hope this explanation, and subsequent 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 faced with the possibility of parental termination, contact us immediately at 866 766 5245. The skilled attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have spent decades defending parent’s rights in Michigan, and keeping threatened families together. We can help you too.