CHANGES IN FAMILY LAW
Under current Michigan law, the issue of paternity of a child born to a married woman was well settled. If a boyfriend, and not the husband, actually fathered a child, the boyfriend had no standing to have any kind of relationship with that child. The “presumed father” is the man who is presumed to be the child’s father by virtue of his marriage to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s conception or birth. The “alleged father” is the man who, by his actions, could have fathered the child. This, under the common law, was known as Lord Mansfield’s Rule.
This strict adherence to the rule by the courts created some unfairness to the husband who was not the biological father of the child, but was required to support or pay support if the parties later separated or divorced) and the biological father who wished to have a relationship with his child, but was not allowed to do so. There are some ways to avoid the issue and one is that the alleged father does have legal standing to bring a paternity action if he “did not know or have reasons to know that the mother was married at the time of conception.” The other possible resolution to the matter is if the mother, alleged father and presumed father all agree via hearing in court that the alleged father is indeed the biological father, thus opening the door to file a paternity action to establish the relationship between biological father and child, set up parenting time and determine support.
Life is complicated. Ask the right questions of your mate/spouse.
For more information, contact Ann Stuursma and Tara Velting.