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A Better Partnership
July 02, 2017

MSC grants MOAA to consider scope of collateral attack rule in child custody matters

Does a respondent parent waive his or her right to appeal if he or she does not directly appeal an adjudication in a child custody matter?  The Michigan Supreme Court has granted mini-oral argument to consider this question in In re Hill Minors, No.155152.  In re Hill Minors involved a petition to remove children from the home and a supplemental petition to terminate the respondent's parental rights due to her substance abuse and criminal conduct.  The trial court intiially held a plea hearing at which the respondent admitted some of the allegations and pled no contest to others.  The respondent did not appeal the adjudication.  The trial court later held another hearing at which the court terminated respondent's parental rights.  The Court of Appeals held that respondent's appeal from this disposition was an impermissible collateral attack on the court's jurisdiction because she failed to raise a direct appeal following the adjudication.  

In granting mini-oral argument on the application for leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court asked the parties to address: 

(1) whether this Court’s opinion in In re Hatcher, 443 Mich 426 (1993), correctly held that the collateral attack rule barred the respondent from challenging the court’s jurisdiction from an order terminating parental rights;

(2) if not, (a) by what standard should courts review respondent’s challenge to the adjudication, in light of respondent’s failure to appeal the first dispositional order appealable of right, and (b) what must a respondent do to preserve for appeal any alleged errors in the adjudication; and

(3) if Hatcher was correctly decided, whether due process concerns override the collateral bar rule.

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