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Michigan Family Law Updates

Clarkston Legal Nov. 5, 2009

Over the past several months, as Michigan and the nation grind through a sustained recession, many articles have appeared pointing to the trend of couples staying together, despite a doomed marriage. The fact is, divorce is very expensive.

In the attached article from the Star-Ledger (New Jersey), Attorney Susan Reach Winters answers the editor’s questions on this tough subject. The article focuses on some of the financial aspects of divorce and provides some common-sense answers that readers of this blog may find quite useful in the -painful- contemplation of a divorce proceeding.

Setting aside the costs of divorce; what about the pain caused when a child results from an ill-fated union between two people, when the woman is married to another man? This is the subject of a recent Detroit News article, covering a few heart-breaking cases here in Michigan, as well as a proposed change in Michigan’s Child Custody Act (CCA).

Currently under the CCA, if a child is born during an intact marriage, and the biological father is not the husband, the bio-dad has no standing in court and thus, no rights to parent his child whatsoever, unless and until a divorce action is filed. Even in cases where a divorce is filed, the rights of a bio-dad are limited should the bio-dad intervene in the divorce proceeding.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Michelle McManus of Leelanau County, proposes giving biological fathers a short window (one-year) to bring a proceeding in family court to assert his rights as the father of a child. Positive DNA results would be required along with a showing that the mother was separated from her husband at the time of conception. The latter requirement, if added to the Child Custody Act, will guarantee plenty of work for family law attorneys. Currently, the bill is being vetted by the State Bar of Michigan’s Family Law Counsel. Thus, it may be some time (years) before the CCA is amended along these lines.

If you have family law issues, and you want answers, contact our firm to discuss your options.