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FAMILY LAW 9: Loss of parental rights in this case was respondent’s mental illness.

In March of 2015, respondent was admitted to a psychiatric hospital unit as a result of her paranoid and manic behavior. AL was later removed from respondent’s care and placed with her maternal grandparents. Despite opportunities for services and mental health treatment, respondent continued to struggle with serious mental illnesses that prevented her from providing proper care for AL. Following a bench trial in December of 2016, the trial court terminated respondent’s parental rights to AL.

On appeal, respondent first argues that petitioner did not create an effective treatment plan to accommodate her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. Specifically, respondent contends that she was misdiagnosed with, and improperly treated for, bipolar disorder, paranoia, psychosis, and schizophrenia. According to respondent, her correct diagnosis is PTSD.

In this case, there is no doubt that respondent suffers from mental illness. The case began in March of 2015, when Child Protective Services (CPS) filed a petition alleging that respondent was exhibiting significant mental health concerns, including paranoia. Respondent has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with maniac and severe psychosis, PTSD, paranoia, and schizophrenia.

The DHHS offered respondent numerous services aimed at addressing her mental illnesses. In particular, the case service plan required respondent to attend counseling and psychiatric appointments on a regular basis, take all prescribed medication as directed, follow recommendations of the professionals. While this case was pending, she was hospitalized on several occasions, she was prescribed medications, and she received mental health treatment from numerous mental health professionals.

Respondent does not dispute that, in general, she received opportunities for services and mental health treatment. Instead, she claims that her only correct diagnosis is PTSD, meaning that mental health treatments focused on a variety of mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, were improper and that the DHHS’s approach to services was inadequate because it was not tailored to her PTSD diagnosis.

Regarding the adequacy of the treatment respondent received for her PTSD, we note that, in terms of the treatment for PTSD, the treatment for bipolar disorder and PTSD would actually be very similar.

While respondent attempts to fault the DHHS for not addressing her specific needs in light of her PTSD diagnosis, the record shows that this is a case where respondent refused to cooperate with, and benefit from, the services offered to her.

For purposes of MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i ), the condition leading to adjudication in this case was respondent’s mental illness, specifically her paranoid and manic behavior, which prevented her from providing proper care for AL, and, given her noncompliance with her service plan and her lack of progress in addressing her serious mental illnesses, the evidence supports the conclusion that there is no reasonable expectation that respondent will be able to provide proper care and custody for AL in a reasonable time considering AL’s age.

There is likely nothing scarier than the thought of not being able to see your children. As a client of Aldrich Legal Services, you will benefit from being represented by Brad Aldrich, an experienced litigator with more than 19 years of experience. Brad will use his considerable knowledge and resources to help you pursue a positive resolution that protects you and your children's interests.

We understand what a stressful time this is for you when your custody rights are on the line. Contact Aldrich Legal Services to schedule a free consultation with one of our family law attorneys. We will help you protect your custody and visitation rights.

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