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Michigan parental rights case gets complex

For both the physical and psychological well-being of children, it is important for them to be in a loving home with caring and responsible parents. However, in the best interest of a child and to prevent harm to them, there are times when courts may be forced to terminate parental rights.

Michigan residents may have heard about the case of a six-year-old Michigan boy who passed away as a result of abuse, and neglect he suffered at the hands of his parents. Following the tragic incident, the six-year-old's parents recently appeared in a Michigan family court to find out if their parental rights would be terminated for their three daughters - a seven-month old, two-year-old and a seven-year-old. The court accepted the parental rights termination request.

According to reports, the six-year-old boy was raised in Illinois by a woman other than the boy's biological mother until the age of three. However, an IL judge awarded his biological mother custody. Furthermore, at that time the biological father of the six-year-old boy granted permission for the man, presently charged with his abuse and neglect, to become the legal father when the boy's biological mother decided to marry him.

Recently, following an investigation all four children appeared to have been either physically or sexually abused by their parents. Furthermore, following the tragic death of the six-year-old boy, parental termination proceedings were initiated. According to reports, initially the hearing was postponed to locate the legal father of the seven-year-old girl. The legal father stated that he is not the biological father of the seven-year-old but signed her birth certificate voluntarily. However, he indicated that he did not have any contact with the girl since she was an infant. Following the abuse and neglect of the children, parenting time for parents was suspended, but the legal father of the seven-year-old was granted supervised visitation.

Extended family of the children is interested in having contact and a relationship with the children, but given the circumstances surrounding the abuse and neglect, no family contact has presently been granted. Parents and grandparents should know their legal rights to child custody when disputes arise.

Source: Mlive, "Details emerge in 6-year-old Elijah Dillard's death at parental rights hearing over his sisters," Neil Barris, March 26, 2014

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