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157821-2 - In re MGR, Minor

In re MGR, Minor

 

Moneka Sanford (GAL)

_____________________________

 

 

Birth Mother,

 

Donna Medina

 

Other Party,

 

and

 

 

Prospective Adoptive Parents,

 

Liisa Speaker

 

Petitioners-Appellants,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Oakland – Valentine, V)

 

Putative Father,

 

 

 

Respondent-Appellee.

 

Summary

This case concerns the interplay of the Adoption Code and the Paternity Act. The birth parents had a brief domestic relationship that resulted in the birth of the subject child in 2016. Before the child’s birth, the mother had arranged for the child’s adoption, but appellee, the then-putative father, opposed adoption. After the child’s birth, appellee filed a paternity action. At one point, the circuit court stayed the adoption proceeding to allow the paternity case to proceed, but the Court of Appeals directed that a hearing under Section 39 of the Adoption Code, MCL 710.39, be conducted. The circuit court found that appellee qualified as a “do something father” under Section 39(2), MCL 710.39(2), and that his parental rights should not be terminated. Meanwhile, in the paternity proceeding, appellee was found to be the biological father of the child, and an order of filiation entered. Appellants, the prospective adoptive parents, who have had custody of the child since birth, appealed the circuit court’s decisions in the adoption. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals held that appellants’ challenge to the circuit court’s stay of the adoption proceeding in favor of the paternity proceeding was rendered moot after the Section 39 adoption hearing was held, as directed by the Court of Appeals, prior to the paternity determination. The majority also held that the circuit court’s decisions in the adoption case were rendered moot by the outcome of the paternity case. One judge dissented in part, disagreeing that the adoption appeal was rendered moot, and expressing the opinion that the circuit court improperly assessed whether appellee’s rights should be terminated under Section 39(2) and that a remand for an assessment of those rights under Section 39(1) was appropriate. The Supreme Court has granted leave to appeal to address: (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in determining that the circuit court’s decisions under Section 39 were moot in light of the order of filiation that entered in the paternity action; and (2) whether In re MKK, 286 Mich App 546 (2009), should be overruled. This case will be heard at the same session as In re LMB (No. 157903).​