Last week saw yet another sad decision for a biological fathers of a child born to a mother who was married to another man at the time of birth and conception. In Voris v DHS, a biological father sought to intervene in a neglect case to assert his parental rights to his child conceived and born during the mother’s marriage. The Court ruled that the biological father lacked standing to intervene because the child had a legal father. Few States allow children to have more than one legal father, and prior Michigan case law has so held.
After the parental rights of the mother and her husband were terminated, the husband filed for divorce in another county. The judgment of divorce stated clearly that Voris was the legal and biological father of the child. Voris filed a paternity action and the DHS petitioned for dismissal, again claiming that Voris lacked standing. The family court judge disagreed. The DHS appealed.
The Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that since the parental rights of the husband and wife had already been terminated, the language in the judgment that purportedly established the parentage of Voris represented nothing more than a collateral attack on the termination Order.
Nearly 40% of children born today are non-marital children. I use the term “non-marital” because I prefer it to “born-out-of-wedlock” which carries a stigma. Until Michigan gets on board with the Uniform Parentage Act, which would permit a biological father of a child conceived and/or born during a marriage standing as a “Presumed Father,” biological fathers are going to continue to see these results.
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