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Fathers' Rights in Michigan: An Update on Proposed Law Change

In Michigan, what rights does a biological father have to be involved with his child if the mother was married to another man at the time the child was born?

As we explained in our January 4 blog post, the Michigan Legislature has been considering changing the law on this question. The proposal is to change a state law from 1956 that says any child born during marriage is a child of that marriage. In other words, the law presumes that the husband was the father, even if the DNA evidence that is available today shows otherwise.

The effect of the law is to deny child custody and visitation rights to biological fathers and to make husbands responsible for child support for a child fathered by another man.

This law, however, is about to change. Both chambers of the Legislature have passed bills that would allow a biological father to take legal action to obtain parental rights, even if the mother was married to another man when the child was born.

The bills are now before Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The new law would give judges discretion to consider the best interests of the child when a biological father seeks to assert parental rights in cases where the mother was married to another man at the time of the child's birth.

It should be noted that, for purposes of the old law, even a mother who was legally separated from her husband was considered still married. That led to perceived injustice in cases where a wife who was separated from her husband became pregnant by another man - who could then be denied rights to be involved in the child's life.

Source: "Bills would extend biological dads' rights," Traverse City Record-Eagle," 6-11-12

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