Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Acknowledgment of Paternity and the Revocation of Paternity Act

In an opinion which can be found here, In the Matter of E.R. Moiles, the Court of Appeals agreed with the Mecosta County trial court which had  revoked an acknowledgement of paternity of a child.  In that case, the man who signed the affidavit of parentage (Moiles) had reason to know that he might not be the biological father, but signed the affidavit anyway.  The actual biological father (Weeks) requested that the court revoke the acknowledgment, stating that Moiles knew he might not be the biological father.  A paternity test found that Moiles was not the biological father, and the court revoked the acknowledgement and found paternity with the true biological father.  This was done under the Revocation of Paternity Act.  That Act has several requirements to revoke an acknowledgement of parentage; in this type of situation, it requires that the acknowledged father must have committed fraud or misrepresentation when he signed the acknowledgement.  MCL 722.1437(2).  The court decided that Mr. Moiles had done this because he had reason to believe he wasn't the biological father and signed the affidavit anyway.  The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.

Recently, the case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.  They issued an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal, remanding the case to the Mecosta County trial court.  Here's the text of the order:   The Court stated that the Court of Appeals was wrong when it stated that signing the affidavit of parentage equated to fraud or misrepresentation, stating that under the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act, "an acknowledging father is not required to attest that he is the biological father."  

I don't know where I stand on this yet; on one hand, the whole purpose of the affidavit is to establish who the father is, but no father can know with 100% certainty that he's the father of the child, right?  Obviously, there is greater doubt in some situations than in others, but there's a strong interest in keeping families stable.  It will be interesting to see how the cases regarding the Revocation of Paternity Act continue to play out.

Also, see my recently published article on the Revocation of Paternity Act in the February 2014 edition of the Michigan Bar Journal, Family Edition.  See it here.

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