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Termination of Parental Rights
(MCR 3.977 / MCL 712a.19b)

The Juvenile Code provides for a court hearing, upon petition of the prosecuting attorney, child, agency, guardian, custodian, concerned person (see Juvenile Code §19b(6) for definition of concerned person), or Children’s Ombudsman, to determine if the parental rights to a child should be terminated and the child placed in the permanent custody of the court. Child Protective Services is required to file a termination petition in certain instances where there have been egregious offenses against the child (MCL 722.638(1)-(2)). The termination of parental rights, or permanent wardship hearing, is divided into two phases. The first phase is to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence to support statutory grounds for termination of parental rights pursuant to MCL 712.19b. The second phase is to determine if it is clearly in the child’s best interests to terminate parental rights.

A termination of parental rights hearing must be conducted by a judge or attorney referee.  If the court finds at least one statutory ground for termination of parental rights by clear and convincing evidence and that termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests, the court must enter an order terminating parental rights.  In evaluating whether termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests, the court can consider things such as:  the child’s placement with relatives, the likelihood that the child will find permanency if parental rights are terminated, the bond between the parent and child, any other factor the court deems relevant.

For a case in which ICWA/MIFPA applies, the court must confirm that a qualified expert witness has testified and that the agency has provided active efforts to maintain the Indian family.  To terminate parental rights to an Indian child, the court must determine beyond a reasonable doubt, that continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.


 Toolkit Information

Notice of Hearing (procedural issue)
Standard of Proof (procedural issue)
Required Best Interest Determination (procedural issue)
Termination of Initial Disposition (procedural issue)
Termination on New or Different Circumstances
Required Advice of Rights (procedural issue)
Review of Referee Recommendations (procedural issue)
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights (procedural issue)
Roles and Responsibilities
Statutes, Court Rules, DHS Policies
MJI Child Protective Proceedings Benchbook -- Hearings on Termination of Parental Rights
Benchcard --Judicial

 Publications and Administrative Memos

Parents Attorney Protocol
Michigan Absent Parent Protocol
Livingston County Parent Handbook
Termination of Parental Rights -- Procedure Under MCR 3.977(J) (memo)
Entire Library
Child's Best Interests in Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings

 Court Forms

Order Following Hearing to Terminate Parental Rights (JC63)
Request and Order for Review of Referee Recommendation (JC42)
Advice of Rights After Order Terminating Parental Rights (JC44)
Request and Order for Court-Appointed Appellate Counsel (JC81)
Claim of Appeal and Order Appointing Appellate Counsel (JC84)
Order Denying Appointment of Appellate Counsel (JC85)

 Training Information

Archived Materials and Upcoming Programs