What are the grounds for terminating parental rights in Michigan?

Michigan law allows a court to terminate a parent’s rights if, after a trial, it finds that the parent has committed certain acts affecting the child, or failed to perform certain duties to care for the child. These include:

  • Abandonment of the child for 91 or more days;
  • Sexual abuse of the child;
  • Failure to provide support to the child despite having the means to do so;
  • Imprisonment for at least two years without the ability to care for the child; or
  • Conviction of certain violent criminal offenses.

What is a Lawyer Guardian Ad Litem, and what do they do?

Once CPS has initiated a legal proceeding, the court will appoint a lawyer, known as a ​​Lawyer Guardian Ad Litem (LGAL), to represent the “best interests” of the allegedly abused or neglected child. The LGAL will conduct their own investigation and make a recommendation about the best plan for the child. They may speak with the child as needed since they are essentially the child’s lawyer.

If the child disagrees with what their LGAL is doing, the LGAL must notify the court that a conflict has arisen. The court will assess whether the child is old and mature enough to decide for themselves, and may appoint another attorney to represent the child.

Do I have to talk to CPS investigators, or let them into my house?

You have a right to remain silent in CPS investigations in Michigan. In fact, you should say as little as possible until you have hired an attorney.

You do not have to allow a CPS officer into your home unless they have a warrant, but you should remain polite while refusing them entry. You also do not have to allow them to interview your child without a warrant.

How long does CPS have to complete its investigation?

CPS must begin an investigation within 24 hours of receiving a report. It has 30 days to complete the investigation, although it can extend that if it can show extenuating circumstances.

What do CPS investigators look for?

CPS investigators look for evidence of child abuse or neglect. This could include physical injuries or evidence that a child is lacking necessary care, such as a reasonably clean home with enough food and clothing. They may inspect the child’s home and interview parents, guardians, teachers, doctors, and others.