COA: Court order for physical transfer of a child from a parent constitutes removal triggering the protections of the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act

InIn re Detmer/Beaudry, No. 336348, the Court considered the custody situation of a mother and two minor children that were eligible for membership in the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and thus subject to the protections of the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA). In particular, the mother alleged that the children had been placed with the non-respondent father without trial court findings regarding remedial services or risk of harm, as required by the MIFPA. During the pendancy of the appeal, the case became moot as the children were returned to the mother's custody. Nevertheless, because the issue had public significance, was likely to recur, and would avoid judicial review because of the nature of temporary placements, the Court decided to rule on the case even though it was moot. In doing so, the Court found that the MIFPA required particular findings from the trial court before a child could be "removed" from parental custody. Although the MIFPA did not define the word "removed," and the Court concluded that a court order physically transferring placement of the child constitutes removal and triggers the MIFPA protections, but that a voluntary placement of a child is not a removal, and the protections do not apply in that situation.