The Michigan Revocation of Paternity Act, known as ROPA, is a law that allows, in limited circumstances, to exclude a legal father. A legal father is created by virtue of fact, court order, or otherwise, and therefore provides legal rights and obligations to that father. But, sometimes legal father is not the biological father.
When a married woman has a child her husband is presumed, by law, to be the legal father. Other times a child may be born to an unmarried couple and because of mistake, or fraud, the mother leads one man to believe he is the biological father, therefore he volunteers to take on those legal rights and responsibilities, but he is not.
Under the ROPA statute a man previously determined to be the legal father can be excluded and removed as the legal father of the child. There are very specific procedures involved to accomplish this which is often dependent on whether there are any other court cases, who is the party seeking to exclude the legal father (the mother, the legal father, or the biological father). In some circumstances the request to exclude the legal father must be brought by filing a new cause of action and in others it must be made in a current open case (Divorce, Paternity, Child Support, etc.).
There are also specific timelines bring such a claim to the court. Under ROPA someone needs to address the matter that the legal father is not the biological father in a court either by the child’s third (3rd) birthday or within one (1) year the Affidavit of Paternity was signed, whichever is later. However, recent caselaw has allowed a legal father to be excluded after these timelines had expired in a Divorce case.
If you have concerns about the legal father of a child versus the biological child, at Schmeltzer & Bostic we can assist you with assessing your case, determining the best course of action, and helping you to achieve your legal goals. Whether you are the biological father that wishes to establish legal rights to your child, or you are the legal father and wish to be excluded from the legal obligations to a child that is not your biological child, or the mother who wants to clarify the child’s father, there is often a legal solution, so long as the matter is brought to the court’s attention timely.