As many of my readers know, I have written extensively on the topic of parentage issues arising in cases where the mother is married to another man. If a child is conceived and/or born while the mother is married, her husband is presumed by Michigan law to be the natural and legal child of the child. If the mother chooses to keep the biological father out of the child's life, he has no legal right to pursue or exercise any parental rights. Frequently, biological fathers are denied the right to see their children. Often this occurs even when the father has already formed a bond with that child.
A case like this occurred in Traverse City in 2003. The mother became pregnant and knowing she was pregnant, she married man other than the biological father. Bill Numerick lost his case in the Michigan court of appeals. Read Numerick v Krull from the court of appeals.
This is not an isolated incident. Recently, I received a letter from another father living in Washtenaw County who has been shut out of his child's life. He is working with state legislators hoping to modify Michigan's law so that biological fathers can remain involved in their children's lives.
Daniel Wharton was in a relationship with a married woman from March 2005 to late June of 2005. He said she was going to leave her husband for him and then backed out. A month later she informed him she was pregnant with her husband’s child and that she was sorry for all the pain she put him through. When she mentioned calling an abortion clinic, he urged her not to. They agreed that she and her husband would be tested to prove the husband was the father.
The baby was born on February 16, 2006. The mother called Daniel to tell him all was well but she still wanted DNA testing to prove the husband’s paternity. As the baby grew, she became worried the baby was Daniel’s. Daniel agreed to be tested, which was done on August 28, 2006. If the child proved to be his, Daniel told her he wanted to be in the baby’s life. On September 11, 2006 the DNA results proved the baby to be Daniel’s with 99.88% certainty.
Daniel and his extended family began visiting the mother and baby without the husband’s knowledge. Daniel suspected she was agreeable because she wanted a relationship with him, not him with their baby. Daniel didn’t want to hurt the mother’s husband by taking the baby away.
Daniel called the mother to explain that he’d spoken with a lawyer and wanted her to sign an acknowledgment of his paternity so he could have visitation. The mother changed her telephone number. On November 16, 2006 he contacted her at work, and she said to leave her alone. She then cut off all contact.
March 1, 2007 at the Washtenaw County Court in Ann Arbor, Mi., Daniel presented his case with his DNA test, pictures and phone records as proof of their relationship. He requested visitation and child support payment schedule. The case took about five minutes, and Daniel was told he had no rights with the child.
Rewriting parts of the paternity act of 1956, Senator Michelle McManus introduced Bill 506 of 2007 to Families and Human Services. In the meantime, Bill Numerick's website has a link dedicated to Numerick’s son with instructions on contacting legislators about this situation: www.loveofmylife.org "
Daniel welcomes calls and emails from people who want to support this legislation: Phone: 734-812-8273. [email protected]
You will find the current Paternity Act here.
The pending legislation is Senate Bill 506 of 2007.
Other articles that I have written on the topic of the rights of unwed parents may be found in these archives on Updates in Michigan Family Law Or go to Updates in Michigan Family Law online and click on the category Paternity in the right-hand margin. http://jeannehannah.typepad.com/
Contact me if you need more information about your parental rights and you are unwed to the other parent. Often prompt action can avoid a potential destruction or interference with a father's right to co-parent his child born out of wedlock.