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COA remands termination case due to incomplete findings as to which person abused child

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

The Court of Appeals in an unpublished per curiam opinion reversed and remanded the Circuit Court order in a termination of parental right case. The Court of Appeal held that Circuit Court failed to identify any statutory basis for terminating respondent’s parental rights, In re Cheeks, October 15, 2013 (Docket No. 315523). The Petitioner alleges that the child was sexually abused and sought to terminate respondent-mother’s parental rights under MCL 712A.19b(3)(i), (g), and (j). The Circuit Court terminated respondent’s parental rights in part, because mother maintained contact with her boyfriend. The Court of Appeals reasoned that, while certain evidence tends to indicate that the boyfriend abused the child, there is also an indication that the child’s father could have abused the child. The Circuit Court did not state the statutory ground upon which it relied to terminate mother’s parental rights. It was unclear from the record who abused the child -- the child’s father or the mother’s boyfriend. However, the Court of Appeals noted that if the boyfriend abused the child, then respondent-mother would certainly be in a position to protect the child from the alleged abuse and, in that instance her rights would be justifiably terminated. The question that remains is what reasonable steps could respondent-mother have taken to prevent the abuse from the child’s father.

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