EAST LANSING, MI – The Michigan Supreme Court says an uncle and his wife can't get permanent custody of his brother's children without proving the mother is not fit to raise them.
AUDIO: The Oakland County couple sued for permanent custody of the four children after raising them for several years while the biological parents struggled with cocaine addiction and scrapes with the law.
The biological mother, Tammy-Jo Hunter, eventually kicked her addiction, divorced the children's father, and starting visiting with the children and paying child support. But a judge said that was not enough to prove it was in the children's best interest to remove them from the home where they'd been living.
But the Supreme Court said the bar is set very high for permanently taking away a biological parent's rights. A majority of the justices said Hunter is entitled to a new hearing, and her children's guardians have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that she's still not fit to regain custody of her children.