Senate Judiciary Committee passes change in parental rights

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LANSING — Legislation designed to update Michigan’s outdated paternity act was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, chair of the panel.

Senate Bill 256 would allow a possible biological father to file a petition to determine paternity under certain circumstances. Current state law does not give a possible biological father legal standing to file a paternity action to show he may be the biological father of a child born to a married woman.

According to Jones, the measure was introduced following the tragic story of a Fenton father, Daniel Quinn, who has been fighting to obtain parental rights of his child (after she was used to sell drugs by another man).

“This case shows that the Michigan Paternity Act needs updating,” Jones said.

Quinn was in a relationship with Candace Beckwith while she was still married to another man, since her divorce was not yet legal. A child was born as the result of their relationship and Quinn helped raise the child for two years. Eventually, Beckwith moved back in with her estranged husband, Adam Beckwith, in Ohio.

The little girl was used as a shield in a drug trafficking operation and Adam Beckwith went to prison. Now Quinn, the biological father, has no rights under Michigan law to gain custody of his daughter Maeleigh.

The bill would allow biological fathers to claim parental rights within a year of their child’s birth if the mother is married at any time from conception to the birth of a child and her husband denies paternity, or if a relationship is established between the biological father and the child. The measure would also give judges the ability to rule what is best for the child on a case-by-case basis.

“I believe that Michigan’s 1956 Paternity Act has become archaic and needs to be updated,” Jones said. “That’s why I’m a sponsor of Senate Bill 256 and want to work in a bipartisan manner to reunite children with their fathers.”

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