Termination of parental rights is a very complex and very frightening subject. People tend to not want to talk about it unless they are enmeshed in a battle with CPS and the subject comes up as a possibility. We understand the reluctance. After all, it’s a difficult topic. But while it may not be comfortable to discuss, the fact that it isn’t openly talked about in many circles means that many people have an incomplete understand of what’s involved and what it means. We would like to take a moment to clear up the facts, and help you understand how this happens and what it really means.
To have your parental rights terminated means the complete and total severance of the parent-child relationship. It is absolute and permanent. A parent loses not just the right to care for and raise their child, but the right to maintain a relationship with, or have any contact with their child, without prior permission. Essentially, in the eyes of the law, they are no longer your child and you are no longer their parent.
In most cases, the allegations that would lead the court to seek a termination of parental rights are very serious and may result in criminal charges against the parent. A parent may be criminally prosecuted for these charges, and may face a potential jail or prison sentence.
These criminal charges may include, but are not limited to:
- child abuse in the 1st, 2nd 3rd, or 4th degree,
- child abandonment
- child sexual abuse.
There are two ways that a parent’s rights can be terminated – voluntary and involuntary termination. Here is the break down:
This is where either one or both of a child’s parents choose to give up their parental rights. An example of this would be a mother who wishes to give her baby up for adoption because she is unwilling or unable to care for the child.
This can occur without the consent of either parent and is usually sought when authorities believe that the parent is unfit or unable to care for their child. If authorities believe that a child has been severely abused or neglected, or is in danger of severe abuse or neglect, the Family Court may be asked to terminate the parent’s rights. This would be an involuntary termination. Before this can happen, however, the court must conduct a trial to determine if the child is actually in danger. Usually, after a termination petition has been filed against a parent, their parenting time is automatically suspended until the court makes a decision.
During the trial, the court will only consider “competent evidence”, which means that the Michigan Rules of Evidence will apply. These rules state that hearsay evidence is not admitted and it’s up to the prosecutor to prove neglect or abuse by “clear and convincing” evidence.
Join us next time, when we will break down exactly what the termination trial involves, and what happens afterwards. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of harming a child in any way, or are facing a possible termination of your parental rights, contact The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled parental defense attorneys are standing by to help you!