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Michigan father could lose visitation rights

A Michigan woman says the state law that allows the father of her six-year-old daughter to visit the girl is preventing her from protecting her child. The father is a convicted sex offender, meaning that he cannot go near schools, sporting events and other places where children are present. Michigan law, however, does not expressly forbid him from exercising his parental rights and visiting his daughter. The girl's mother has taken the man to court in order to prevent her ex-husband from seeking visitation and child custody. The man was previously convicted of sex crimes involving underage girls.

Michigan's laws regarding child custody generally prioritize the best interests of the child, but it can be difficult determining whether granting a parent custody or visitation rights acts in favor of or against those interests. Currently, state law provides sex offenders a certain degree of special consideration regarding contact with their own children. The Michigan Senate is currently contemplating the Children's Protection Act, which would eliminate much of this consideration. As such, it is important for parents in a situations similar to that of the couple in this story to contact a family law attorney to ensure their parental rights and the interests of their children are properly represented.

The woman argues that allowing her ex-husband to see and claim custody of their daughter would deny the young girl her own rights. She argued that doing so would force her daughter to be in regular contact with someone who "tried to have sex with minor children for almost three years." The woman, a school principal, explained that she protects children from sex offenders on a daily basis in the course of her job, but would be unable to shield her own daughter from potential abuse under the current law.

The girl's father declined media requests for comment, but has not withdrawn his request for visitation rights. The ruling judge in the case has yet to make a decision regarding the request, saying he wanted to speak with the girl before doing so.

Source:  clickondetroit.com, "Mother fights to change Michigan law, stop sex offender father from seeing 6-year-old daughter" Steve Garagiola, Apr. 29, 2013

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