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.