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July 2010 Archives

"Duped Dad" Laws: Legal Consequences of Paternity Fraud

The increasingly visible problem of paternity fraud has prompted a number of states to consider passing laws on the issue.  The proposed bills, commonly known as "duped dad" laws, generally address situations where a man questions whether he is the father and wants paternity testing, or where he claims he was wrongfully deceived into believing he was the biological father of a child.

Putative Fathers May Gain Rights

Michigan's case law has consistently held that a putatively father does not have standing to bring a paternity action when a child is born to a woman who is married to another man from conception to the birth of the child. (Barnes v. Jeudevine 475 Mich. 69 (2006); Girard v. Wagenmaker, 437 Mich. 231(1991); Serafin v. Serafin, 401 Mich. 629(1977)). But on February 5, 2009, Senator Michelle A. McManus introduced legislation to deal with this issue (SB 0197). The bill would amend the Paternity Act (MCL 722.711) to allow a putative father to bring a paternity action under certain circumstances. The bill does the following:

Ability to Earn to be Considered in Award of Spousal Support

In the unpublished case of Jensen v Jensen, issued on July 8, 2010 (Docket No. 289698), the Court of Appeals held that a trial court erred when it failed to consider the defendant-wife's unearned income potential in awarding spousal support. In that case, the Plaintiff-husband worked between 65 and 70 hours a week with an employer who offered unlimited overtime. Defendant, a registered nurse, worked only 30 hours per week, despite the availability of full-time work. Ironically, wife cited husband's long hours as one of the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, but then asked the trial court to utilize these hours and the income derived thereby, in calculating alimony.

Worker's Compensation Benefits Received During Marriage May Be Marital Property

In a per curium opinion by the Court of Appeals issued on July 13, 2010 (Cunningham v Cunningham, Docket No. 285541, for publication), the Court held that a worker's compensation award received during a marriage can be considered marital property.

Non-Modifiable Means Non-Modifiable

In the recently decided case of Rose v Rose (issued June 22, 2010 for publication), the Court of Appeals dealt a blow to litigants who were hoping that postjudgment financial insolvency might get them out of non-modifiable spousal support obligations. This case makes clear that no matter how dire the postjudgment situation, non-modifiable support obligations will not be set aside.

Rumors Spread as Gores Split

Famous and influential people divorce all the time. Some divorce for very public reasons, and others for private and personal reasons. With the recent announcement that Al and Tipper Gore have separated coupled with famously high divorce rates in the United States in general, many people now accept the very "inconvenient truth" that marriage, even a long and seemingly happy one, often is not sustainable.

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