Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father wins right to fight for his daughter in Michigan legislature

Fighting Father Daniel Quinn
On this Father’s Day, First Mother Forum again salutes a father who fought for the right to nurture his child. Michigan father Daniel Quinn Maeleigh sired a daughter, Maeleigh, with Candance Beckwith who was married to--but separated from--Adam Beckwith. He supported his daughter for two years until Candance and Adam reconciled and moved with Maeleigh to Kentucy.

Quinn sued asking a court to grant him paternal rights. Court ordered blood test showed Quinn was the Maeleigh's father. But that wasn't the end of it.



The court dismissed Quinn's which was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Michigan, law like the laws of many states presumes a woman's husband is the father of her children. It bars men from suing to establish paternity of a child unless the child’s mother and husband consent to the action which the Beckwith's did not.

Jane
Laws like Michigan’s have their genesis in the 1950's when legislatures, anxious to protect women from having to defend themselves in court against false claims from husbands seeing to avoid child support, passed laws proclaiming that a child born to a married couple living together was the child of the husband, regardless of what blood tests or other physical evidence might show. It didn’t even matter if the husband was sterile. If the couple were living part, the law presumed the husband was the father but did allow him to contest paternity. As for the real father, he was a nobody in the eyes of the law. 

These laws required that a mother’s husband be listed on the child’s birth certificate even if the mother insisted that another man was the child’s father.

Child advocates thought it better to keep children’s true origins secret than marking them as bastards, their mothers as wanton, and the man they knew as father a biological stranger. The laws also protected children from jealous siblings who might try to cut them out of an estate by going to court to prove the children were not their father’s biological children.

These laws reflected much the same thinking that engendered laws requiring states to seal children’s birth certificates when they were adopted and issuing false certificate naming the adoptive parents as the parents. Not only did the laws keep secret what many in society thought ought to remain secret, but they protected children from a stranger showing up at the doorstep claiming to be a parent.

With the advent of DNA testing, states like Oregon loosened their laws a little and allowed husbands to contest paternity even if they had been living with the mother at the time of conception. However, real fathers are still barred from suing to establish paternity or place their names on their child’s birth certificate unless both the husband and wife consent.

Quinn did not give up. After being rebuffed by the courts, he turned to the legislature. Two weeks ago, the Michigan legislature passed a group of bills that would allow Quinn and other men who sired children with women married to other men to pursue paternity actions. The bills are waiting for Governor Rick Synder’s signature. It's heartening to know that influential groups supported the bills including the Department of Human Services, the Family Law Section of the Michigan State Bar, and the National Family Justice Association, a non-profit which fights against paternity fraud and for the rights of biological fathers. The only opposition came from the Michigan Chapter of National Organization for Women. I could not find anything on NOW’s website explaining why it opposed the bill. I do know, however, that some women lawyers opposed the Oregon legislation allowing husbands to file actions to contest paternity arguing that such actions would deny children the right to support and that the identity of the man who provided the sperm was an irrelevant technicality.

Daniel Quinn joins a growing list of men who have refused to their children to be deprived of their right to be nurtured by their real fathers. John Wyatt, Benjamin Mills, Jr, Benjamin Wyrembeck, Otto Kirchner, Robert Manzanares, and Dan Schmidt have challenged the adoption of their children without their consent. All but Wyatt have prevailed and Wyatt is still fighting.

---jane

____________________________
Bills that could reunite Hartland father with his daughter headed for the Governor.
National Family Justice Association

From FMF:
First Fathers Matter
Utah Adoption laws becoming more hostile to birth fathers?
Utah rules against natural father. Again. And again. Adoption is big business there.
Father's Names on Birth Certificates, more artifice than fact
May the Richest Parents Win--the DeBoer case

6 comments :

  1. Irrelevant unless they want someone to pay child support!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello,


    This is not really a comment to this post but I couldn't find a "contact the authors" place!
    I came accross your website god knows how and I found it very interesting. I have never been confronted to adoption, don't know anyone who has so I guess I completed agreed with the "the birth mother gives a baby to a loving family and they all ever live happy everafter " cliché. Thanks for making me less silly ;-) I tried to find some data on the internet and it seems that there are much less domestic adoptions in France, where I live, than in the US - better social services and state support?


    Good luck with your work and your families!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi blandine: If you click on our names on the side, or at least mine, you will find our email address:
    forumfirstmother@gmail.com.

    Thanks for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Lorraine!

    I FINALLY bought your book - "Birthmark" - going to read it after Jeanette Winterson's book I got from the library! Can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am very conflicted about this new law. I grew up in Michigan and have family members still living there. While I truly support the right to know one's biological origins, I also feel very badly for the poor smuck who is raising a child he believes to be his own, only to find out that it is not. I think that this law should also include an action which could be brought against the deceiving wife and the biological father by the cuckolded husband for past child support and intentional infliction of emotional distress. I have several male family members and friends in this situation, married to a cheating wife who passed her offspring off as theirs. Yes, biological fathers should be able to claim paternity, but they and/or the deceiving mother should be held financially liable for tricking someone into raising a child that is not their own. If the man knows the child is not his and still chooses to parent, that is a different situation.

    Well look at me, actually taking the side of an “adoptive” parent. Hell truly has frozen over!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Every situation asks for a personal response; there is no one-fits-all opinion here.

    and Lee, hey cool! I'm pleased.

    ReplyDelete

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