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Supreme Court hears arguments on unusual child custody case

Although the road to family court is often fraught with emotional issues and complex arrangements, the goals are simple once people are there. Separation arrangements and divorce proceedings are the place for adults to work out their differences, but family court is all about the best interests of the child.

Michigan may bring parents to task over the custody arrangement of their children even if they are not separating or divorcing. The state's Department of Health and Human Services petitioned for the removal of two boys from their parents' custody for fear of neglect. This came after the couple's newborn daughter died three days after her birth.

According to the department's petition, the daughter died of a jaundice-related illness after the midwife involved in the delivery recommended medical treatment, which the parents refused on a religious basis. The couple's lawyer claimed that Michigan law does not allow a parent to be considered negligent based on religious practice. The judge disagreed, saying neglect is legally different from negligence.

Now, the Supreme Court in Lansing may rule on the difference between neglect and refusing to seek medical care. Separately, the parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of the girl. But the issue at hand in family court is the health of their remaining children.

Parents or family members with a case to protect a child in someone else's custody may consult an attorney on the best way to petition for a safer arrangement. Legal representation insures that your interests as a family member are represented in family court proceedings.

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