Biological father could not assert paternity of married couple's child

Generally, a child born to a married couple is presumed to be legitimate. However, under Michigan family law, it may be possible to bring proceedings to determine if a presumed father is not a child's actual father.

For an alleged biological father to bring such an action under the state's Revocation of Paternity Act, he must first be able to meet the requirements of the law, as shown in the Michigan Court of Appeals case of Grimes v. Van Hook-Williams.

Was the Alleged Father Dating a Married Woman?

The plaintiff in this case alleged that he was the biological father of a child born to a husband and wife. The plaintiff admitted that the wife was married from the time of the child's conception to his birth, but also alleged that the husband and wife were separated at the time of the child's birth.

In addition, the plaintiff alleged that he and the wife had presented themselves as a couple, the wife did not wear a wedding ring at that time, and the plaintiff and the wife had plans to marry. The plaintiff wanted to establish paternity and asked the court to allow DNA testing of the child.

In response, the wife alleged that she had never separated from her husband, had never presented herself as the plaintiff's girlfriend, and that their relationship had been sporadic over a three-year period. After considering the evidence, the circuit court granted summary judgment to the wife. The plaintiff appealed.

Revocation of Paternity Act

The Michigan Court of Appeals, in considering the applicable criteria of the law, noted that the only fact in dispute was whether the plaintiff did not know that the wife was married at the time of conception. Here, the plaintiff's own complaint had acknowledged that the wife was married from conception to the time of birth, and he acknowledged she was married at the time they were dating.

Although the plaintiff argued that the husband and wife had been separated, the couple was never divorced and were still married. The wife also never told the plaintiff that she was divorced. Based on this evidence, no reasonable person would believe that the plaintiff was unaware that the wife was married at the time of conception.

Therefore, the plaintiff lacked standing to bring his lawsuit under the Revocation of Paternity Act and had no constitutional due-process or equal-protection right to claim paternity either. The circuit court's summary judgment, dismissing the plaintiff's paternity suit, was appropriate.

Seek Advice on Paternity Proceedings

If the paternity of your child is in question, or you wish to pursue an action to determine paternity, whether you are a mother or a father, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Such an attorney can help ensure that the matter is resolved as smoothly as possible, while protecting your own rights in the proceedings.