If parental rights to previous children were terminated, is the court required to take jurisdiction over subsequent children?
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The DHS must file a petition seeking termination of parental rights at an initial disposition hearing if a parent has previously had his or her parental rights to another child terminated, there is a risk of harm to a current child, AND the parent has failed to eliminate that risk. MCL 722.638. Three subsections of MCL 712A.19b(3) allow for termination of parental rights based on a prior termination of parental rights.
In In re Futch, 144 Mich App 163, 166—68 (1984), the Court of Appeals held that evidence that respondents were convicted of manslaughter in the beating death of respondent-mother’s first child supported assumption of jurisdiction over and termination of respondents’ parental rights to a subsequent child. “This Court has not required that neglect or abuse of a specific child must be shown as a prerequisite to jurisdiction.” Id. at 168, citing Dittrick, supra and LaFlure, supra.
In In re Gazella, 264 Mich App 668, 679—81 (2005), the Court of Appeals held that where respondent’s parental rights to previous children were involuntarily terminated based upon abandonment and her parental rights to other previous children were voluntarily terminated after child protective proceedings were initiated, it was not error for the court to find jurisdiction based upon the doctrine of anticipatory neglect. The Court rejected the mother’s argument that “[p]ast conduct is not a statutory ground for asserting jurisdiction, there must be some current physical harm or threat of serious emotional harm.” Id. at 680, quoting
Dittrick, supra and Powers, infra.
In In re McCoy, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, decided April 18, 2000 (Docket No. 217459), the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err in taking judicial notice of its file from a previous termination of parental rights proceeding in order to establish jurisdiction over the current children. Moreover, in a footnote, the Court of Appeals asserted that “[t]he fact that respondent-appellant’s parental rights to three older children had been involuntarily terminated for neglect was sufficient to support the trial court’s assumption of jurisdiction over the minor children.” Id., citing Dittrick, supra, In re Powers, 208 Mich App 582 (1995), Baby X, supra, and LaFlure, supra.
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