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April 28, 2014

MSC rules that grandparents have standing to seek grandparenting time even after father's parental rights are terminated

Grandparents have standing to seek grandparenting time under the Child Custody Act, MCL 722.21 et seq., even after their child's parental rights to the grandchildren are involuntarily terminated, according to the Michigan Supreme Court's peremptory order in Porter v. Hill.  MCL 722.27b(c) permits a grandparent to seek grandparenting time when "[t]he child's parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased."  In this case, the grandchildren's father's rights were involuntarily terminated just before his death, and the Court of Appeals held that the termination deprived the grandparents of standing to seek grandparenting time.  After oral argument on the application, the Michigan Supreme Court peremptorily reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that, "under the circumstances of this case, a biological parent is encompassed by the term “natural parent” in MCL 722.22(e) and (h), regardless of whether the biological parent’s parental rights have been terminated."  This wording is rather peculiar, as it seems to limit the Court's statutory interpretation to the facts of this case. Surely, that is not what the Court intended! 

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