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A Better Partnership
January 05, 2015

COA holds that a trial court's decision terminating parental rights under the one-parent rule may be challenged on direct appeal

The Michigan Court of Appeals in In re S. Kanjia Minor, No 320055, vacated its previous order and held that if a parent was not a party to the termination proceedings and had its rights terminated under the one-parent rule that parent may contest the findings on direct appeal. It further held that the Sanders decision has limited retroactive effect.
The child's mother in this case had pled no contest to allegations that she had abused and neglected her child. Relying on the one-parent rule which was abolished by the Michigan Supreme Court in In re Sanders, the trial court terminated both the mother's rights and the father's rights, despite the father not being a party to the proceedings. In re Sanders later held that such a termination violated the non-party parent's procedural due process rights by not affording that parent a right to contest the termination.
On rehearing, the Court first held that despite the father not being a party to the original termination proceedings, and thus not raising the issue at the trial court, he may appeal the decision terminating his rights; and such appeal constitutes a direct appeal and not an unlawful collateral attack.
The Court also found that the Sanders decision has limited retroactive effect which will permit challenges of the one-parent termination rule to any case that was pending on direct appeal at the time Sanders was decided.
The Court vacated its earlier finding and remanded the father's case to the trial court for consideration based on these holdings.

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