|Fighting Father Daniel Quinn|
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.
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.
Bills that could reunite Hartland father with his daughter headed for the Governor.
National Family Justice Association
First Fathers Matter
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