You could be named on a list of child abusers without even going to court - the Central Registry.
In Michigan, Child Protective Services/DHHS retains exclusive control over listing an individual on the Central Registry. MCL 722.628d, In re Harper, 302 Mich App 349; 839 NW2d 44 (2013). When a CPS investigation requires listing on the Central Registry, CPS/DHHS must notify each person who is listed as a perpetrator of child abuse or child neglect. That notice must be sent via registered mail with return receipt requested and with delivery restricted to the named individual. Any person who is listed on the Central Registry has 180 days to request that his or her name be removed - SO ACT QUICKLY. That 180 day time limit to request a hearing to amend or remove from the Central Registry may be extended up to 60 days by CPS/DHHS, which often has an interest to keep you on the Central Registry, only on a showing of good cause for the delay. Id.
So, which cases go on the Central Registry? CPS/DHHS ranks cases from I to V, with I being the worst and V being unsubstantiated. The categories are:
CHILD PROTECTION LAW (EXCERPT)
Act 238 of 1975
722.628d Categories and departmental response; listing in child abuse or child neglect registry.
(1) For the department's determination required by section 8, the categories, and the departmental response required for each category, are the following:
(a) Category V - services not needed. Following a field investigation, the department determines that there is no evidence of child abuse or child neglect.
(b) Category IV - community services recommended. Following a field investigation, the department determines that there is not a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or child neglect, but the structured decision-making tool indicates that there is future risk of harm to the child. The department shall assist the child's family in voluntarily participating in community-based services commensurate with the risk to the child.
(c) Category III - community services needed. The department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or child neglect, and the structured decision-making tool indicates a low or moderate risk of future harm to the child. The department shall assist the child's family in receiving community-based services commensurate with the risk to the child. If the family does not voluntarily participate in services, or the family voluntarily participates in services, but does not progress toward alleviating the child's risk level, the department shall consider reclassifying the case as category II.
(d) Category II - child protective services required. The department determines that there is evidence of child abuse or child neglect, and the structured decision-making tool indicates a high or intensive risk of future harm to the child. The department shall open a protective services case and provide the services necessary under this act. The department shall also list the perpetrator of the child abuse or child neglect, based on the report that was the subject of the field investigation, on the Central Registry as provided in section 7(7), either by name or as "unknown" if the perpetrator has not been identified.
(e) Category I - court petition required. The department determines that there is evidence of child abuse or child neglect and 1 or more of the following are true:
(i) A court petition is required under another provision of this act.
(ii) The child is not safe and a petition for removal is needed.
(iii) The department previously classified the case as category II and the child's family does not voluntarily participate in services.
(iv) There is a violation, involving the child, of a crime listed or described in section 8a(1)(b), (c), (d), or (f) or of child abuse in the first or second degree as prescribed by section 136b of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.136b.
If a CPS investigation fails to find a preponderance of the evidence that a child has been abused or neglected or if the family court denies a petition on its merits after adjudication, an individual must not be listed or if listed, must be removed from the Central Registry. HOWEVER, for category II cases, if a CPS investigation substantiates child abuse or child neglect and CPS provides services to the family, the parent(s) will be named to the Central Registry EVEN WITHOUT a hearing with a judge.
A person may only be listed on the Central Registry for 10 years if he or she is required to be listed in a case other than a case in which the agency must petition the court. Where the person who must be listed is the perpetrator of child abuse or child neglect of the sort that the law mandates a petition, that person must be listed on the Central Registry until there is credible evidence that the individual is dead.
If you are named to the Central Registry, it is your duty to contest that decision promptly. You will be assigned an administrative law judge, who will preside over a hearing very much like a traditional court hearing before a family court judge. At tht hearing, CPS/DHHS must prove the allegations by a preponderance of evidence, including the categorization for your family. If CPS/DHHS fails, your name comes off the list.
Otherwise, future employers will see your listing. And that could, and most likely will, cause you financial harm, in addition to the emotional harm most experience in a CPS/DHHS case.