Father fights to change paternity rights in Michigan, has court - WNEM TV 5

Father fights to change paternity rights in Michigan, has court hearing next Friday

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A bitter custody battle has spawned major changes in Lansing and now, a newly passed law is helping a Hartland father's fight to get his daughter back.

Daniel Quinn and his then 2 1/2-year-old daughter are all smiles in the pictures he has framed.  But four years ago, his baby girl was taken away right in front of his eyes.

"Now, she's 6 years old, last time I talked to my daughter was August of 2008, and the last time I saw Maeleigh was Memorial Day of 2008," Quinn explained.

This story starts in 2006, when Quinn was dating Maeleigh's mother, a woman who he said claimed to be divorced. She got pregnant and the two moved in together. But shortly after Maeleigh was born, Quinn learned something wasn't quite right.

"At the hospital, I was denied to be able to sign my name on the birth certificate, and it was at that point, the hospital said that she was married," Quinn said.

The two continued to live together for the first two and a half years of Maeleigh's life. But then they split. Maeleigh's mother got back together with her husband again and the husband went to a judge and said he is the only father the little girl has known, and said he will raise the little girl like she is his own.

"That's conspiracy, it's not kidnapping, it's conspiracy to kidnap a child, and that's what happened, they colluded, using the laws, colluded in order to manipulate and defraud the courts in order to kidnap my little girl," Quinn said.

But they did it legally, thanks to an old Michigan Law that says a husband is presumed to be the father of a child born during a marriage. Quinn lobbied to right the wrong. He worked with lawmakers, and in June, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law that gives biological fathers the right to petition for parental rights.

Next Friday, Quinn will appear in front a Genesee County judge and fight for his right to be recognized as the father and then have a happy reunion with his daughter.

"It's unfortunate that she's had to go through this. It's going to be exciting, obviously, but there's also going to be a transition phase," Quinn said.

The husband of the little girl's mother is currently in prison on drug trafficking charges while Maeleigh was in his presence. Quinn said one of the biggest reasons he has put up this fight is to protect a child before a marriage.

State Sen. Steven Bieda sponsored the bill in Lansing and said he is happy to get this law changed to help fathers like Quinn who have had to fight a tough, and what he calls outdated, system.

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