Governor signs bills to increase paternity rights of fathers
LANSING — State Sen. Rick Jones announced on Tuesday that Gov. Snyder signed a package of bills into law that update Michigan’s outdated paternity act. This was a bipartisan effort with Sen. Steve Bieda, Rep. Pat Summerville, R-New Boston and Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine.
Under the measure, possible biological father to file a petition to determine paternity under certain circumstances. Current state law does not give a possible biological father legal standing to file a paternity action to show he may be the biological father of a child born to a married woman.
According to Jones, the measure was introduced following the tragic story of a Fenton father, Daniel Quinn, who has been fighting to obtain parental rights of his child (after she was used to sell drugs by another man).
“This case shows that the Michigan Paternity Act needs updating,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
Quinn was in a relationship with Candace Beckwith while she was still married to another man, since her divorce was not yet legal. A child was born as the result of their relationship and Quinn helped raise the child for two years. Eventually, Beckwith moved back in with her estranged husband, Adam Beckwith, in Ohio.
The little girl was used as a shield in a drug trafficking operation and Adam Beckwith went to prison. Now Quinn, the biological father, has no rights under Michigan law to gain custody of his daughter Maeleigh.
The bills allow biological fathers to claim parental rights within a year of their child’s birth if the mother is married at any time from conception to the birth of a child and her husband denies paternity, or if a relationship is established between the biological father and the child. The measure also gives judges the ability to rule what is best for the child on a case-by-case basis.
“I have been married for 39 years, and I firmly believe that children should be born in wedlock,” said Jones. “However, it is no longer 1956 and I realize that this is not always the case. Under this measure, judges will be able to rule what is best for the child on a case-by-case basis.”
“Advances in science have made the old system for determining paternity obsolete,” said Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. “This law will remove legal barriers that are preventing fathers from having a relationship with their children. I think it’s great that this is signed just before Father’s Day. It will be an early gift to some fathers.”