Many Illinois child custody and visitation disputes come down to determining who has legal rights to the child. And while determining paternity does play a role in many cases, a man’s biological link to a child does not automatically establish whether or not he has parental rights. Child custody laws can differ from state to state and approach issues like parental rights and paternity differently. A recent case in Michigan illustrates how established legislation influences individual court rulings, and sheds light on how fragile fathers’ rights can be in some instances.
At the heart of the case are issues concerning a 57-year-old law and how it applies to one particular child custody dispute. The Michigan law in question was passed in 1956, and stipulates that a man does not have to be the biological father of a child to be recognized as the child’s parent. According to the law, the man only has to be married to the child’s mother to be granted parental rights. That decision, once meant to further fathers’ rights, may now be standing in the way of one man gaining custody of his biological child.
The old Michigan law comes into play in the recent case because the plaintiff in the dispute had a baby with a woman who was married to someone else at the time. Because of that fact, a Michigan appeals court upheld a previous ruling, deciding that the plaintiff and biological father has no legal rights to his child. The court found that the mother’s husband is the one who has parental rights.
This type of the ruling may be seen as a blow to fathers and fathers’ rights advocates everywhere. It’s recommended that anyone seeking paternal rights obtain sound legal counsel to help ensure they are treated fairly under the law.
Source: CBS Detroit, “Man Denied Right To Child Born Of Affair,” Sep. 20, 2013