Today's guest author is Judge David A. Hoort, Family Court Judge in the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Ionia County, Michigan. Judge Hoort writes about his concerns with a new statute affecting termination of parental rights that became effective a few days ago.
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Along with murder, voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault that results in serious bodily injury of another child, MCL 712A.19a(2)(d), as amended, effective May 1, 2012, now provides that if a parent is required to register under the sex offenders registration act, the department of human services is not required to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent.
Critics argue that this will allow the family court to terminate a parent's parental rights to a child for no other reason than a parent being required to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA). (Past law required that there be some showing of ‘unfitness’ before parental rights can be terminated.) Advocates counter that judges retain discretion to order DHS to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent, and the legislation was needed to receive federal funding.