Michigan’s Paternity Act Again Under Attack

Daniel Quinn wants his little girl back, but a 200-year-old Michigan law prevents the father from securing the return of his child.

Quinn is the biological father of Maeleigh, now 4 years old. He's fighting for custody after the girl was exploited by her mother's husband in a drug deal.

A Father Without Parental Rights

The Tri-County Times reports that Quinn took a DNA test proving to a Genesee County Court that he's the child's father. But Michigan is one of the few states that disregards DNA testing when establishing paternity of a child born outside of traditional marriage.

The 33-year-old Fenton resident Quinn was in a relationship with was Maeleigh's mother, Candace Beckwith, while she was estranged from her husband, Adam Beckwith. The Beckwiths reunited after the birth of Maeleigh. Adam Beckwith subsequently told a court he wanted to raise Maeleigh as his daughter.

Outdated Michigan Law

The archaic Michigan Paternity Act states that if a baby is conceived while a couple is married, the husband is deemed the father, even if the child is the product of an extramarital relationship between the wife and another man.

State Rep. Matt Lori recently introduced legislation that would give biological fathers such as Quinn the legal option of petitioning a court for parental rights, even if the claim is opposed by the mother. Last year, State Sen. Michelle McManus introduced a similar bill.

Current Status

At the moment, Quinn has no legal standing, regardless of the fact that he has proven he's the girl's biological father. Adam Beckwith is currently in jail in Kentucky after being charged with felony child endangerment and drug trafficking in a case in which he admitted to using Maeleigh in an effort to throw police officers off the track of a drug deal. He later pled guilty to lesser charges, as did Candace Beckwith. She's now on probation. Maeleigh is in the custody of Adam Beckwith's parents in Kentucky.

If you face a complex legal dispute over child custody and paternity, contact a Michigan family attorney to help you navigate the law and protect your children.