When my fiance died, she left behind a child of her own and two kids we had together. I let the kids walk to the park alone the other day and one ended up getting hurt. A mother at the park called 911 and I ended up being arrested on Father's Day and charged with child abuse/neglect. I'm not sure what to do next.
Should I sign over temporary custody of the children to a trusted friend until I can get everything back in order? I absolutely do not want the girls to ever know that I got in trouble for letting them go to the park alone.
In Michigan, a parent may give his custody and decision making rights to his child to another adult through a “six month power of attorney,” which is a document not filed with the courts, or a limited guardianship plan, which is a document filed with the courts in a limited guardianship case. A power of attorney is limited in duration to six months and only gives the adult the powers specified in the document, whereas a limited guardianship plan may continue until the parent substantially complies with the terms (with the parent and the adult write, subject to the court’s approval) or the court terminates his parental rights and gives the adult all of the powers of a parent except the powers to consent to marriage, adoption or release for adoption.
Which, if either, you should use depends on the facts of your case, the status of your child abuse/neglect charge, your children’s needs and your ability to provide for them. Therefore, I encourage you to speak to an attorney personally.
In the meantime, there are positive things you can do to “get everything back in order” with your children, to use your words. Cooperate with all Child Protective Services programs. Contact your county Department of Community Health to determine whether your family qualifies for any parenting skills, counseling, nutrition or health insurance programs. Document your positive interactions with your children to refer to in court proceedings. And build a network of family and friends who will support you and your children. These are all positives to a judge sitting over a child abuse/neglect case.
Please be advised, although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, I can only give you general information. I cannot give you legal advice without reviewing your case thoroughly. Do not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and contact an attorney immediately for legal advice. Cordell & Cordell does practice throughout Michigan, and we would be happy to speak to you. Thank you for submitting your question.
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.