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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default 17-Year-Old Will Not Return to Custodial Parent, Non-Custodial Parent Taken to Court

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Michigan.

    My 17-year-old son has run away from his custodial parent and has told his school counselor and others that he would rather kill himself than go back due to many ongoing issues which have become too much for him to deal with. The school counselor and police have told him that under Michigan law a 17-year-old cannot be forced to return. The police have told me the same thing.

    However, since there is a custody order in place the other party has taken me to court accusing me of contempt and asking for immediate return of the minor child and for sanctions against me. I have asked the judge who I can get to assist me in fulfilling the order since my son refuses to go back. I already told him the police will not do it and he agreed that he cannot tell them how to do their job in this instance. He advised me to call Friend of the Court, which I have done. I spoke with one person and was transferred to the answering service of two others, all of which stated I must submit my complaint in writing.

    My son does have family members that he can stay with who will see that he gets to school and is taken care of. But I am in a very difficult position because it seems that I cannot legally spend time with my son until he is 18 without somehow violating the custody order. This is not acceptable to me as I have done nothing wrong. Legal aid will not help me and I lack the funds to retain an attorney.

    I am afraid of the other parent and I am afraid of going to jail. I am so upset at this time that I am actually considering moving out of my own home until my son turns 18 since he is friends with the neighbor and close to my husband and if he visits either I am worried that I will get caught in the middle.

    I know that emancipation is an option, but since my son has family that will take care of him I don't think it is a good one since he is an advanced placement student and his schedule for next year is very heavy on math and science classes. Getting a job would make focusing on his studies much more difficult.

    I love my son and understand why he will not go back. I will support him as much as I can without breaking the law myself.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,783

    Default Re: 17-Year-Old Will Not Return to Custodial Parent, Non-Custodial Parent Taken to Co

    bottom line: neither parent can force the 17 yo to return home, period. That would mean there is no contempt of court on your part unless you are advising the child to act as they are.



    So, you take a copy of the police report you made when the child ran away and hopefully even take the 17 yo with you when you go to court to show the kids actions are beyond your control.

    But I am in a very difficult position because it seems that I cannot legally spend time with my son until he is 18 without somehow violating the custody order.
    I don't see how that is so.


    your issue is if you act to violate the order. You suggesting the kid run away could possibly be seen as at attempt to avoid the enforcement of the order. If the child's actions are totally independent, I do not see any contempt of court.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: 17-Year-Old Will Not Return to Custodial Parent, Non-Custodial Parent Taken to Co

    jk,
    My husband has basically advised me to do the same as you have. There is no police report because they will just not act when the case involves a 17-year-old. But that is common knowledge around here and I am sure that there is a record of the officer that told me that they cannot make my son go anywhere he doesn't choose to go when I have called for standby during my own custody pickups. My husband's feelings are that if my son is using this information as a reason to not go back then he needs to make that clear to the judge so I am not at fault.
    It is hard to know just what this judge would do if my son came to court, though. Our case involved a great deal of abuse, some of which was documented. I even had a PPO against the custodial parent at one time, yet the custodial judge chose not to believe any of the allegations of abuse, mine or my son's. So in a way I am worried that he would find a way to force him to go back even when no police department will do so.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    14,714

    Default Re: 17-Year-Old Will Not Return to Custodial Parent, Non-Custodial Parent Taken to Co

    It is up to your ex to prove you in contempt. If you have not encouraged your son to leave and are not harboring him, you should be fine. I would avoid visiting with him until after court.
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