Rule 2.004 Incarcerated Parties

(A) This subrule applies to

(1) domestic relations actions involving minor children, and

(2) other actions involving the custody, guardianship, neglect, or foster-care placement of minor children, or the termination of parental rights, in which a party is incarcerated under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections.

(B) The party seeking an order regarding a minor child shall

(1) contact the department to confirm the incarceration and the incarcerated party’s prison number and location;

(2) serve the incarcerated person with the petition or motion seeking an order regarding the minor child, and file proof with the court that the papers were served; and

(3) file with the court the petition or motion seeking an order regarding the minor child, stating that a party is incarcerated and providing the party’s prison number and location; the caption of the petition or motion shall state that a telephonic or video hearing is required by this rule.

(C) When all the requirements of subrule (B) have been accomplished to the court’s satisfaction, the court shall issue an order requesting the department, or the facility where the party is located if it is not a department facility, to allow that party to participate with the court or its designee by way of a noncollect and unmonitored telephone call or by videoconferencing technology in a hearing or conference, including a friend of the court adjudicative hearing or meeting. The order shall include the date and time for the hearing or conference, and the prisoner’s name and prison identification number, and shall be served at least 7 days before the hearing or conference by the court upon the parties and the warden or supervisor of the facility where the incarcerated party resides. The initial telephone call or videoconference shall be conducted in accordance with subrule (E). If the prisoner indicates an interest in participating in subsequent proceedings following an initial telephone call or videoconference pursuant to subrule (E), the court shall issue an order in accordance with this subrule for each subsequent hearing or conference.

(D) All court documents or correspondence mailed to the incarcerated party concerning any matter covered by this rule shall include the name and the prison number of the incarcerated party on the envelope.

(E) The purpose of the initial telephone call or videoconference with the incarcerated party, as described in subrule (C), is to determine

(1) whether the incarcerated party has received adequate notice of the proceedings and has had an opportunity to respond and to participate,

(2) whether counsel is necessary in matters allowing for the appointment of counsel to assure that the incarcerated party's access to the court is protected,

(3) whether the incarcerated party is capable of self-representation, if that is the party’s choice,

(4) how the incarcerated party can communicate with the court or the friend of the court during the pendency of the action, and whether the party needs special assistance for such communication, including participation by way of additional telephone calls or videoconferencing technology as permitted by the Michigan Court Rules, and

(5) the scheduling and nature of future proceedings, to the extent practicable, and the manner in which the incarcerated party may participate.

(F) A court may not grant the relief requested by the moving party concerning the minor child if the incarcerated party has not been offered the opportunity to participate in the proceedings, as described in this rule. This provision shall not apply if the incarcerated party actually does participate in a telephone call or video conference, or if the court determines that immediate action is necessary on a temporary basis to protect the minor child.

(G) The court may impose sanctions if it finds that an attempt was made to keep information about the case from an incarcerated party in order to deny that party access to the courts.