Termination of Parental Rights: Michigan Supreme Court Ruling (Part One)
In an unusual development, the Michigan Supreme Court intervened to rescue the parents from a termination of parental rights order. The termination originated in the Oakland County Circuit Court and was supported by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The case is In re Curry and you can read the opinion here. This case illustrates the dangers for parents being investigated by CPS in Michigan. While the parents are no doubt grateful that all but one of our Supreme Court Justices came to their aid, the history, in this case, is just plain scary.
The family troubles started in a car with two cousins in the back seat. The younger child, age 3, made a statement about kissing her doll that seemed alarming to her aunt. The aunt, who strongly disliked the child’s father, asked a question that the Supreme Court later deemed as leading. Everything progressed rapidly downhill from there.
At the request of CPS, the mother kept the children away from the father during the investigation. There is a total of three children in this family. All of them were questioned at the Care House, a forensic interview center. Interestingly, none of the children disclosed any abuse during these interviews. But that did not stop CPS. They petitioned the court for the removal of the children. It also did not stop CPS from seeking and obtaining orders terminating the parental rights of both mom and dad. The termination order was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals, but the case has now been sent back to the trial court for a decision as to whether the court should continue to monitor this family.
Even with the Supreme Court overturning the termination, this family may not be out of trouble yet. If the trial court decides to keep this file open and continues to monitor the family, the court will order a service plan. A service plan would be aimed at treating a father accused of sexual assault. Most agencies offering sexual assault treatment for offenders require a confession. An innocent dad would find it difficult to confess and would, therefore, be deemed untreatable. Many courts would then terminate the parental rights for failing to complete a treatment plan. And round and round we go. Parents caught in this “failure to confess” trap need the help of very competent attorneys. I hope this family gets the help they need and deserve. In the meantime, the children continue to suffer separation from their parents even though 6 out of 7 Justices came to their aid.
My focus is on helping parents. In Part Two, I will give you my take on what went wrong in this case. If I can help your family in any way, please do not hesitate to contact Cronkright Law today.