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Ann Arbor case is prompting change in Michigan child custody laws

Sometimes parents make mistakes; there's no doubt about it. However, it is impossible to protect your children from every hazard that exists, even if you want to. Furthermore, most innocent mistakes do not end up causing any serious harm. Sometimes, however, if authorities catch wind of an innocent mistake, it can lead to serious child custody issues, as one Michigan man found out four years ago.

At a Detroit Tigers baseball game in 2008, a father bought his 7-year-old son what he thought was a bottle of lemonade. What he bought, though, was Mike's Hard Lemonade - an alcoholic beverage. The Ann Arbor man had never heard of the drink before, and the vendor booth had no signs indicating the drinks were alcoholic. Because of this accident, the young boy was taken by authorities and placed into emergency protective custody. This incident has prompted Michigan lawmakers to seek changes to the state's child custody laws.

Recently, the House voted almost unanimously to implement stricter guidelines surrounding when a child can be removed from the custody of his or her parents. The new bill proposes minor tweaks in the language of the current law, but most hope it will prevent incidents of children being inappropriately taken from their parents. The proposed wording says that children can be removed from their homes if they are at "substantial risk of harm or in surroundings that present an imminent risk of harm." The current law allows authorities to take children whose health, morals or welfare are in danger.

As we can see from this case, there are some instances that are misinterpreted, leading to children being unfairly removed from the custody of their parents. If this new legislation is passed, hopefully it will help prevent instances like this while allowing authorities to focus on the most serious of cases.

Source: M Live, "Accidental drink purchase changing Michigan law on emergency child protective services," Tim Martin, May 22, 2012

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