The Law -The Paternity Act MCL 722.71
 History: 1956, Act 205, Eff. Aug. 11, 1956 .

What is The Paternity Act?

The Paternity Act grants standing to seek a determination of paternity to a child born out of wedlock, the mother of a child born out of wedlock, the father of a child born out of wedlock, or the Family Independence Agency on behalf of a child born out of wedlock who receives public assistance.

The Act defines “child born out of wedlock” as:

“a child begotten and born to a woman who was not married from the conception to the date of birth of the child, or a child that the court has determined to be a child born or conceived during a marriage but not the issue of that marriage.”

Thus, there are two ways in which a child can be considered a “child born out of wedlock,” and a putative father can seek paternity under the Paternity Act only if the child falls into one of the two categories.

As to the first category—that of “a child begotten and born to a woman who was not married from the conception to the date of birth of the child”—the Michigan Court of Appeals has interpreted this language as requiring the mother to have been continuously unmarried from conception to birth in order for the child to be deemed born out of wedlock.

As to the second category—that of “a child that the court has determined to be a child born or conceived during a marriage but not the issue of that marriage”—the Michigan Supreme Court has interpreted this language to require a court determination that the child is not the issue of the marriage prior to the putative father filing his complaint seeking paternity.

If you lose this case what might this mean for others?

My attorney's answer this question well with these statements:

"In the case at bar, the Plaintiff sought a determination in a timely manner. He filed his suit while the Defendant was unmarried. Rather than answer the complaint, the Defendant got married."

"If the Defendant's reasoning holds, there would be no meaningful opportunity to have a determination of paternity made. There is no practical way to prevent a biological mother from marrying another man. Even if the court were to grant a temporary restraining order, the mother could violate the order, accept the penalty, and still hold the presumption against the biological father."

"Such action raises an interesting equal protection argument. Suppose the roles were reversed. The Paternity Act allows unwed mothers to enforce support obligations upon biological fathers regardless of whether the father is married to another women. To satisfy notions of equal protection, this ought to be impossible."

I'll note that I also signed the Affidavit on February 19, 2003, almost 3 months before he was born. I talked to my first attorney September 5, 2002 and again in December. I talked with a former judge and over 10 attorneys in all.

I have followed everything "by the book", more than most ever do, to the extent that my case is considered a precedence. My son Caleb is over 171 months old now and has never heard, nor seen his biological father. How can anyone else expect anything more in a similar circumstance without a change?

Virtually everyone I have talked with does not know this law exists. The few that are aware do not understand it and how it can affect their lives.

 

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