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Michigan appellate court rules on family law matter


There has historically been a presumption in the law that a child born to a married couple is the biological child of the spouses. For most Brighton families, this presumption is a reality. However, when marriages break down and individuals engage in extra-marital relationships, this presumption can sometimes fail.

Such was the case for a Michigan family that spilt up through divorce in 2013. The divorcing husband and wife shared a child and established a custody and visitation agreement to govern the end of their marriage. It was only after the divorce was finalized that the wife revealed that her former husband was not the child's biological father.

The wife married the man who actually fathered the child, and now her first husband is caught in a fight to retain parental rights over a child that biologically is not his. A trial court ruled that the first husband could retain parental rights over the child, but an appellate decision recently released on the matter reversed the trial court's decision. In 2012, the Revocation of Paternity Act was passed that granted biological fathers more rights to parenthood than previously existed.

The matter will now go back to the trial court for reconsideration. As the parties work out their arguments on the matter, the future of a child hangs in the balance. As in other family law matters, the court will consider the best interests of the child in ruling on the case.

The emotions of the parties involved in this case are undoubtedly running high. While the child's biological parents may believe that the appellate court's decision will win them full custody of the child, the formerly presumed father will have to fight to have a place in the child's life. However, this case may set an important standard for future custody cases in Michigan.

Source: The Macomb Daily, "Appellate court backs biological father's rights in Macomb County case," Jameson Cook, July 16, 2014

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