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A Better Partnership
June 23, 2017

COA holds that the Revocation of Paternity Act applies to children conceived via in-vitro fertilization

The Revocation of Paternity Act (“RPA”), which expressly governs an action to determine that a presumed father is not the child’s father, applies to children born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (“ART”), said the Court of Appeals in Jones v. Jones, No. 334937.
 
The parties were married for ten years and had one child together before they eventually separated in 2008. The two remained legally married and stayed in contact after their separation even though they lived on opposite sides of the state. In 2013, the defendant gave birth to a daughter who was conceived via ART. While the plaintiff was not the biological father of the child born through ART, he was presumed to be the legal father due to his marital status with the plaintiff.
 
In 2015 the plaintiff filed for divorce and the two entered a settlement agreement which stipulated that the child born via ART was born out of wedlock and that the plaintiff was not the biological father.  The trial court accepted this stipulation. The defendant appealed, claiming that the trial court erred when it found the plaintiff not to be the legal father.  The Court of Appeals noted that normally when parties enter into a settlement agreement it precludes appellate review. However, since the settlement agreement concerned the well-being of a child, the Court of Appeals reviewed the trial court’s ruling for clear error.
 
The defendant argued that RPA was not the proper vehicle to determine paternity for a child conceived through ART. The Court of Appeals disagreed and held that allowing RPA to govern paternity for children conceived via ART was consistent with the Legislature’s intent to recognize the legitimacy of a child born through ART to a married couple. The Court noted that even if a child is found to be born out of wedlock, MCL 722.1443(4) provides that a court may refuse to enter an order terminating paternity if it would not be in the child’s best interest and lays out eight factors for courts to considered when determining best interest.
 
The defendant argued that allowing RPA to apply to children conceived via ART would allow any father to easily revoke paternity when an anonymous donor was used. The Court disagreed and held that the best-interest factors laid out in MCL 722.1443(4) would provide a safeguard for such situations and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

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