Archived Story

Bills could grant biological dads access to their kids

Published 9:41am Friday, March 23, 2012

The House Judiciary Committee today approved a legislative package that grants biological fathers parental rights to children they have fathered with a married woman.

The package, including bills sponsored by state Reps. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, and Pat Somerville, R-New Boston, will allow biological fathers to have a say in how their children are raised. Under current law, the husband of the mother is granted full parental rights despite not being the biological father.

“These men want to step up and be a part of their children’s lives, but current law does not even acknowledge they have any legal ties to their children,” Lori said. “They want to take responsibility for their kids and have a role in their upbringing.”

Lori’s measure, House Bill 5328, and Somerville’s HB 5329, allow aspects of Michigan family law to be set aside when fatherhood outside the marriage is proven in court.

Somerville said in a time when technology can prove parentage, there is no reason to rely on an antiquated law that denies fathers access to their children.

“In an age of DNA, where those doubts can be conclusively resolved, there is less reason for rules that leave doubt unanswered and ignore clear evidence as to who the biological father is,” Somerville said. “That fact alone does not answer questions of custody and support, but allowing a court to consider the true parentage where that is appropriate may further justice, not thwart it.”

Senate bills in the package include SBs 557-560. The legislation would allow the mother and the acknowledged or alleged father to file in court within three years after the child’s birth, within one year after the date that parentage is acknowledged or within one year after the effective date of the legislation.

“Some men are not told that they are fathers until the child is much older, even in their teens,” Lori said. “This measure gives the biological fathers a chance to be part of the child’s life even though they were unaware that they had a child.”

The measures now go to the full House for consideration.

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