This article is the third in our series regarding Michigan’s Revocation of Paternity Act. In our first installment, we discussed why the Act was enacted, the terminology used in the Act, and the ways in which the Act allows someone to revoke paternity. In our second article, we dug a little deeper into how the Act works in practice. In this final installment, we will touch on some important additional provisions of the Act that must be reviewed before taking any action under the Act.
The trump card: best interests of the child
In our last article, we saw that Sections 7, 9, and 11 of the Act set forth specific steps for revoking a father’s paternity. All you need to do is find the Section that applies to your set of facts, follow the steps, and paternity is revoked, right? Wrong! Section 13 of the Act steps in to say that, like in many areas of family law, the best interests of the child is the ultimate arbiter.
Specifically, it says that, even if you follow the steps to revoke paternity under the Act, the court can refuse to set aside paternity or to determine that a child is born out of wedlock if it finds that doing so would not be in the best interests of the child. This is a big deal, because it means the court can knowingly decide that a “father” who everyone now knows is not really the biological father should remain the father, because that is what is best for the child. In deciding what is best for the child, the court can look to factors such as:
- Whether the presumed father’s actions or omissions should prevent him from now denying parentage;
- How long it has been since the point where the presumed father knew – or should have known – that he might not be the child’s father;
- The nature of the relationship between the child and the presumed or alleged father;
- The age of the child; and
- The harm that may come to the child.
Other pitfalls and pointers
Aside from the best interests of the child provision, Section 13 has other important provisions to consider, such as:
- If there is already an action for support, custody, or parenting time of the child, then the action under the Act must be brought as a motion in that pending case; if there is no such pending case, a new case must be filed;
- The revocation of a man’s paternity does not relieve him from any child support obligation that accrued before the action was filed;
- In a case under the Act, the court must order the parties to participate in – and pay for – genetic testing to help the court make its determination under the Act; however the court is not bound by the test results;
- A court cannot issue an order that sets aside a judgment or determination of a court or administrative agency of another state, even if that judgment or determination is being enforced here in Michigan;
- The Act cannot be used to terminate an adoption, and it does not affect any obligation of an adoptive parent to an adoptive child;
- The court may order the losing party in a case under the Act to pay the attorney fees and costs of the winning party; and
- A court may extend the time for filing an action or motion under the Act based on mistake of fact, newly discovered evidence, fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct, or duress.
Finally, if you read our first installment of this series on the Revocation of Paternity Act, you may recall that a major purpose of the Act was to supplant the various, disjointed procedures courts had created over the years for determining whether or not a person was a child’s father. Section 13 of the Act completed this process by stating that all previous court-created procedures for setting aside a paternity determination or for determining that a child was born out of wedlock would no longer be valid after June 12, 2014. The Act – and the Act alone – is now the law of the land.
Can’t Find An Answer to Your Question about the Revocation of Paternity Act?
If you would like to discuss any issue having to do with the Revocation of Paternity Act – or with paternity in general – please call our office and Michigan family law and divorce attorneys Carlo J. Martina and Peter G. Bissett can answer your questions. Mr. Martina and Mr. Bissett can also represent you in all family law and divorce proceedings to ensure your rights and interests are protected.
Call Michigan divorce lawyers Carlo J. Martina and Peter G. Bissett today at (734) 254-1140 to schedule a consultation.