MI: One Dad Per Kid, Please

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently held that a child can have only one legal father. If that doesn’t sound ground-breaking, consider this.

Man and woman date. Child is conceived during relationship.

Man acknowledges paternity of child. Man and woman live together and raise child together.

Man and woman break up. Man and woman battle for custody of child in paternity case.

Woman’s former boyfriend obtains DNA test proving his biological paternity. Woman’s former boyfriend brings action to establish legal paternity of child.

What’s a court to do? Here’s what the trial court did.

On the one hand, the court refused to revoke the man’s acknowledgment of paternity and, by extension, refused to quash the man’s status as legal father.

But, on the other hand, the court also entered an order establishing the woman’s former boyfriend as the legal father of the child.

Taking the two rulings together, the court, in effect, established two different legal fathers for the boy.

If that seems illogical to you, you’re in good company. The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed, reversing and remanding the case for new trial level proceedings.

The appellate court held that the court could not establish paternity of a second legal father without first revoking the acknowledgment of paternity by the first legal father.

The case may be viewed as a victory for legal fathers over biological fathers.

But it is more properly viewed as a victory for those who have already worn the uniform of dad and stepped up to the plate for their acknowledged children, over those who have not yet done so.

Read more in this Michigan Lawyers Weekly article: order of filiation cannot be granted when acknowledgment of parentage already exists, regardless of who the biological father is.