Legislation Aims To Eliminate “False Fatherhood” Problems

An effort is underway in the state legislature to eliminate an old law that sometimes makes a man the legal father of a child when, in fact, he is not the child’s father. State Representative Jim Runestad, of Milford, tells us, in Michigan, any child born in a marriage is presumed to be the father’s. He’s talked with men who have been forced to pay nearly $30,000 for a child that’s not theirs. He says it’s a problem that some people just don’t understand.

“I’ve literally heard legislators say to me, ‘Well, somebody has to pay for that child. The mother can’t afford it and somebody’s got to pay.’ ‘Well, how about you,’ you know, ‘why don’t you step forward.’ In a worse case, it’s a state obligation but you don’t simply pick a person out of a crowd and say, ‘You pay.’ “

Runestad is working on a legislative solution. Other measures legislators will work to address include providing potential fathers notification of the right to DNA testing and ensuring wages aren’t garnished from wrongly named fathers.