Dad shut out of child's life because of mom's marriage

State laws often differ in the way they administer parental rights. Even though mothers' rights are generally easily assigned, in some Midwestern jurisdictions, fathers must fight for their ability to interact with their own children. Minnesota fathers, like many others throughout the nation, are often hindered by antiquated laws that do not accommodate their needs. One Michigan man has found out that his fathers' rights are being terminated because the mother of his child was married to someone else when the baby was born.

The 30-year-old Traverse City man had been engaged to the baby's mother, age 33. The couple split up before the woman had the baby, however, and she quickly remarried her ex-husband before having the child. In this instance, since the baby was born within the context of a marriage, the husband has parental rights under existing state law. This law holds true even if DNA tests establish a 99.9 percent likelihood that the child is the other man's.

In addition, Michigan couples are not compelled to question the paternity of their children just because someone else intervenes. In this case, the biological father was attempting to force the couple to conduct a paternity test. Attorneys for the couple say they understand that the man wants to know whether the child is his, but the married man has legal standing as the child's father, so he chooses not to pursue the matter.

Officials say that Michigan law has been revamped since the child was born in 2011, but the old law was still applied to the plaintiff's case in this situation. An appeals court in the area will likely be called upon to determine whether that decision was appropriate. In this case, the man cannot even determine whether the child is his; therefore, he effectively has no parental rights. As cases like this one persist, states will continue to examine their justifications behind limiting certain parent's rights, especially those pertaining to fathers.

Source:, "No parental rights for man after mom married" Ed White, Sep. 13, 2013

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