Some Michigan fathers, along with lawyers and lawmakers are fighting a 55 year old law that binds a child conceived during a marriage to that marriage – even if the child was conceived outside of that marriage. Need a moment to sort that one out? Thought so.
The story’s made easier (?) to understand by the case of Daniel Quinn, who was living with Candace Beckwith for three years. Beckwith was still married to another man (but separated from him). Quinn and Beckwith conceived a child – Maeleigh.
Quinn went to court to petition to be a part of his daughter’s life when his relationship with Beckwith went pear-shaped in 2009. Beckwith moved back in with her husband, Adam Beckwith, and took Maeleigh with her. According to ABC News, Beckwith “has since pleaded guilty in Kentucky to child endangerment charges in connection with the growing and sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Kentucky.”
Quinn tried to establish paternity in the courts by bringing a positive DNA paternity test, along with a Christmas video of he and Maeleigh – but the Michigan maternity law didn’t allow for Quinn to have parental rights since Beckwith was married to another man. Under that law, Maeleigh, (whose biological father, remember, is Quinn), is the sole property of Beckwith and her legal husband.
The story gets worse for Quinn. The man that was/is married to Beckwith went to the court and claimed that he was the only father that Maeleigh ever knew. Because of that, it blocked Quinn from any parental rights – and worse, even though Beckwith’s husband, Adam, is now in an Ohio jail on drug charges, he still has the power to move away from Quinn, Maeleigh’s biological father. Quinn contends that Adam Beckwith brought Maeleigh with him while he sold drugs.
Candace Beckwith, of course, says that Quinn was a bad father, and that’s why she went back to Adam Beckwith.
Maternity-based laws like the ones in Michigan are from a bygone era – one where DNA testing didn’t exist. Now those laws work against a system that is able to identify a biological father swiftly and with a high level of accuracy. Bills set to undo the frustrating maternity laws are currently approved by the Michigan State Senate and in review by Michigan’s House of Representatives.
Legal battles by Quinn and other angry biological fathers has been the fuel keeping new bills and measures alive. While some jilted fathers feel like it’s a losing battle – it’s their court time that has proven to Michigan lawmakers that the time to reform paternity law is now.
For more in-depth stories, check the sauce as well as the supplemental sauce over at WXYZ.