In McLaren v Miller, Docket No. 260868 Decided on October 13, 2005, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the amendment to Michigan’s Paternity Act, effective on October 1, 2004. operated prospectively only. Because the mother’s two complaints for paternity were filed prior to October 1, 2004, she was entitled to child support as prescribed under the former statute, retroactive to the date of birth of the children, not child support commencing only at the date of filing of the complaint.
The specific facts of this case are as follows:
May 25, 2004: Mother filed a complaint against defendant seeking child support for her daughter, who was born on April 29, 2002. She alleged that he is the child’s biological father, and he admitted paternity in his answer.
July 8, 2004: Father filed a petition to establish custodial rights and a parenting time schedule with respect to the child.
August 24, 2004: Mother gave birth to a boy.
September 20, 2004: Mother filed a paternity complaint against Father regarding the boy. This case was assigned a separate case number.
September 21, 2004: An order of filiation was entered establishing defendant as the girl child’s father.
October 1, 2004: The amended language of MCL 722.717(2) that had been enacted pursuant to 2004 PA 2009 became effective. This language limits a father’s liability for child support to the date of filing of a complaint, rather than to the date of birth of the child, except for three exceptions that don’t apply to this case.
November 1, 2004: An order of filiation was entered establishing defendant as the boy child’s father.
November 17, 2004: Consolidating a hearing on both cases, the trial court considered the issue regarding child support and whether the amendment of MCL 722.717(2) was retroactive to the time the actions were filed.
The trial court ruled that the child support would be retroactive to the children's birth, and that the amendment to the Paternity Act did not apply retroactively to limit her to child support only as of the date of filing of her complaints. The Court of Appeals affirmed its decision, stating:
[W]e conclude that because both complaints were filed prior to the effective date of the 2004 amendment, and because the amended statutory scheme significantly impacts both children’s substantive right to support by altering the extent of any potential award, and given that there is no express indication in the statutory language that the 2004 amendment should apply retroactively, the amended scheme does not apply to either child. In other words, because the 2004 amendment can significantly alter the right to support by limiting the effective date for support to the filing of the complaint, these claims, which arose under the prior statutory scheme, are subject to the pre-amendment timing rules.
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