Paternity Disputes Could Be Resolved by New Michigan Law

A Michigan family law statute that denies paternity rights to biological fathers would be updated to recognize the importance of DNA evidence if lawmakers approve a bill currently before the Michigan lawmakers. Senate Bill 256 would allow establishment of paternity to a man who was not the mother's husband at the time of birth.

Current Michigan Paternity Law

The current law, which has been on the books since 1956, presumes that the man who is married to the mother at the time of birth is the child's father and prohibits anyone else from filing a paternity action. The only exception is if a prior court order is entered determining that the mother's husband is NOT the father of children born during the marriage. This order must be obtained prior to the putative father filing a paternity complaint or he will lack standing to pursue the paternity or custody of the child. The law has gained recent attention due to an interstate paternity case involving a Genesee County man who fathered a child out of wedlock with a Kentucky woman who was legally separated at the time but later returned to her husband.

"We want for him and others in the future that they will have the ability to share their lives with their children," one of the Senate sponsors of the bill told the Flint Journal. The proposed change to Michigan's paternity statute reportedly has the support of many groups, including the Family Law Section of the State Bar, the Governor's Task Force on Justice for Children and the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Proposed Paternity Law Change

Under the new law, a biological father would have one year from the time of birth to file a paternity petition, unless no father was named on the birth certificate or the mother's husband refused to be named within the first year of the child's life. Various combinations of other factors must also be considered based on the circumstances, including the following:

  • The mother was legally separated or not married at the likely time of conception
  • The putative father has filed an affidavit consenting to DNA identification profiling
  • The mother acknowledges the biological relationship between her child and the putative father

As in all matters involving child custody, visitation and child support, the boy or girl's best interests are the family court's primary consideration. But a parent's interests also deserve legal protection, and a Michigan paternity dispute lawyer can help a father explore every option to secure custody based on the latest Michigan family law developments.