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A Better Partnership
September 12, 2013

COA holds that only a child’s mother and presumed legal father may challenge the child’s legitimacy under the Paternity Act

In Sprenger v Bickle, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff, who claimed to be a child’s biological father, did not have standing to challenge the paternity of the child under the Paternity Act, MCL 722.711  et seq., because only the child’s mother (the defendant) and her current husband could declare that the child was born out of wedlock.   In this case, the defendant divorced her husband, became briefly engaged to the plaintiff, then broke off the engagement and remarried her former husband.  During their engagement, the plaintiff and defendant announced to family and friends that they were expecting a child.   Once the defendant remarried, the plaintiff brought an action to have himself declared as the child’s biological father and requested legal and physical custody, parenting time, and child support.  Despite the evidence presented by the plaintiff—including letters from friends and family and evidence of the husband’s vasectomy—the Court stated that the only way to rebut the presumption of legitimacy under the Paternity Act is by a mother and her husband declaring to the court that the child in question is not a product of their marriage.  Accordingly, the Court held that the plaintiff did not have standing to claim paternity and could not use discovery as a tool to develop his claim.

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