Termination of Parental Rights in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Child holding father's hand depicting termination of parental rights

Is CPS involved in your family life? Are you afraid you are going to lose your children?

Potentially losing your child or children is one of the most stressful and scariest situations anyone would have to face.

Just the fear of this happening can cause great confusion and panic. It is understandably frightening. However, it may help to have an overview of parental termination procedures in Michigan so that you know what to expect.

Two Kinds of Termination of Parental Rights

Let’s start by clarifying the types of termination.

If you are afraid of losing your children, what you are fearful of is the involuntary termination of your parental rights. It’s the kind where you don’t have a choice.

Voluntary termination of parental rights occurs when one or both parents are unable or unwilling to care for their child, and adoption is imminent.

There are some common circumstances around each of these types of parental rights termination. Let’s look at those.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights is permanent. Once you have given up or lost the right to parent your child, you cannot regain that right in the state of Michigan.

As a result, you will not have the right to maintain a relationship with or have contact with your child without permission.

Involuntary termination happens when the court can prove that child abuse occurred to the child or a sibling of the child and that there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will be harmed if returned to the parent’s care.

Termination can happen if a parent has already had his or her rights to one child terminated for the reasons listed below.

Some of the things listed in Michigan law that constitute child abuse are as follows:

  • Abandonment of a young child
  • Criminal sexual conduct involving penetration attempted penetration or assault with intent to penetrate
  • Severe physical abuse
  • Loss or severe impairment of a limb
  • Murder or Attempted murder
  • Life-threatening injury
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Sexual Abuse

All of these things are considered crimes in Michigan. A parent whose parental rights are in question is likely also to be facing criminal charges for those crimes.

The petition to remove parental rights is handled in family court, where the court will conduct a trial. The court must find that the child is in danger considering “competent evidence.”

This means that it must apply the Michigan Rule of Evidence and it can’t accept hearsay evidence.

The prosecutor must prove neglect or abuse using clear and convincing evidence. Moreover, if the court decides it’s in the best interest of the child to terminate, the child will be in the temporary or permanent custody of the state until a new guardian can be found.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

It’s important to remember that this is not the same thing as not being granted custody of your kids in a divorce. In addition, it is not a tool to avoid paying child support.

Voluntary surrender of parental rights most often happens in adoption cases, when both parents are unable or unwilling to raise a child.

Termination can be done by consent or, in the case of a step-parent wanting to adopt a child, by contest.

If one parent has not seen the child for two years and has failed to support the child financially, the other parent can contest the other’s parental rights in court.


Termination of parental rights is not something courts resort to immediately, but it is permanent. Therefore, courts will often give parents a chance to rectify the situation, which caused parental rights to come into question before making this decision.

Michigan Family Law Attorney

If you feel you are wrongly accused of abuse or neglect, you need expert guidance. Contact Michigan Family Law attorney, David J. Kramer, today to start fighting for you parental rights.

Let’s Get Started