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Supreme Court Rules Michigan's One Parent Doctrine Unconstitutional

LANSING (WWJ) - The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled the state's one parent doctrine unconstitutional.

This comes after a Jackson County father, Lance Laird, claimed his three children were kept away from him even though he was never deemed to be an unfit parent. In that case, just a few days after the couple's last child was born, the infant tested positive for drugs. The mother, Tammy Sanders, was found to be an unfit mother, and the court removed all the children from both parents' care.

Under current law — on the books in Michigan for 70 years — Laird couldn't get the kids back, so he took the issue court.

In a five-to-two opinion released Monday, the high court said because the one-parent doctrine allows the court to deprive a parent of the fundamental right to control the care and custody of a child it is a violation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

"We recognize that the state has a legitimate—and crucial—interest in protecting the health and safety of minor children. That interest must be balanced, however, against the fundamental rights of parents to parent their children," the decision reads. [Read the complete Supreme Court opinion HERE].

The case now goes back to Jackson County Circuit Court for further proceedings.

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