Parental figures often become attached to children, even when they are not biologically theirs. This often happens when people become involved in a relationship with someone who has children of their own. A bond develops between the adult that is not the parent and the child. When the adult relationship dissolves then, people often wonder if they can fight for custody of the child to whom they have become so close. The answer to that, as with most legal issues, is that it depends.
The Paternity Act was established in Michigan in 1956. Under the Act, if a child is born at any time during a marriage, the man is considered the biological father of the child, even if he is not. For example, if a woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock and then marries before giving birth, the man she married will be considered the biological father. In these cases, biological fathers can have their parental rights restored, but to do so, they must go through the court system.
When the biological father does not petition the courts or otherwise try to establish paternity, a non-biological father still has a right to fight for child custody. They assumed all the rights and responsibilities for the child once they married the mother and the child was born. As such, they can fight for custody or visitation and they can also be held responsible for paying child support.
While non-biological fathers are often the subject of child custody disputes, that is not always the case. Women can also form close bonds with children that are not biologically theirs and when a relationship ends, they may also want to keep the bond with the child.
In these instances, it is very hard if not impossible to fight for child custody rights. The only way to really do this is if the legal parents give permission, which is rare. If a biological parent consents, they will often have to terminate their own parental rights. Although this does happen sometimes when a stepparent wishes to adopt the child, it is much more rare when an adult no longer has a relationship with the other parent.
Lastly, in other rare instances, it may be possible to show that a parent is unfit or lacks the capacity to properly raise and care for the child. This is usually only possible when the parents have abandoned or abused the child, or when the parents are in prison.
Child custody disputes always have the potential to become complex, and this is even more true when someone wants custody of a child that is not biologically theirs. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our Michigan family lawyers can help with these complicated issues and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation and for more information.
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