Many of you know that I've always had a special interest in paternity or parentage issues. Research shows that children need a good relationship with both parents in order to grow up as healthy, productive adults. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Yes, high-conflict issues sometimes occur in divorces. But I most frequently see disruption of normal parent-child relationships within the context of paternity / parentage cases.
There are some ways in which the statutes governing parentage and custody issues act to disadvantage unmarried fathers who want to protect and foster their parent-child relationships.
The 100-Mile Rule
Section 11 of the Child Custody Act, MCL 722.31, called "The 100-Mile Rule, deals with the legal residence of a child. Subsection (1) states that a child has a legal residence with each parent and it says that a parent cannot move a child’s legal residence more than 100 miles from the child’s legal residence at the time a custody action is filed.
There are several instances in which the 100-mile rule does not apply:
Subsection (2) states: This section does not apply if the order governing the child's custody grants sole legal custody to 1 of the child's parents.
Subsection (3) states: This section does not apply if, at the time of the commencement of the action in which the custody order is issued, the child's 2 residences were more than 100 miles apart.
How Unmarried Dads are at a Disadvantage: The Acknowledgment of Parentage Act
What about cases where the parents are not married? If a father has not signed an acknowledgment of parentage, he has no legal right to custody until he’s been adjudicated as the father. Therefore, if Mom wants to do so, she can move anywhere – across the country even – disrupting the father-child relationship. To learn more about how a biological father can protect himself from this type of interference with the father-child relationship, see Jeanne Hannah's website.
Do you need help with a paternity or child support case? Find a Michigan Family Lawyer near you.