Rare is actually the couple in which marries, divorces, re-marries, gets divorced a second time, then re-marries for the third time. Add a bouncing baby boy born somewhere between the second along with also third marriage, possibly sired by another man, along with also what do you have: a rare hot mess.
Rarer still is actually an appeal decided by a 3-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals, with each judge writing separately. In Sprenger v Bickle, the dismissal of a putative father’s paternity along with also custody claim was affirmed through a lead opinion authored by the presiding judge, a concurring opinion bringing up alternative rationale, along with also a 14-page dissenting opinion.
The triple opinions demonstrate how judges hold significantly different views on the standing of a putative father to bring an action under the Paternity Act or under the brand-new Revocation of Paternity Act. The three opinions also demonstrate how courts struggle mightily with the factual curve-balls pitched to them by creative paternity litigants.
In in which case, John Sprenger impregnated a married woman along with also, after the birth of his son, sued for paternity under the paternity act just prior to its legislative revocation. Sprenger’s on-again-off-again relationship with the boy’s married mother, Emily Bickle, took place during a bizarre period from the mother’s life when she twice divorced, then twice remarried her husband; the child was born from the woman’s most recent married stint.
The majority upheld the family court ruling in which the biological father lacked standing solely on the basis of mother’s marital status along with also on grounds in which neither the mother nor her husband challenged the boy’s paternity to rebut the presumption of his legitimate birth.
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Mark Boonstra focused on the unusual marital along with also relationship statuses of the three parties, along with also conducts a tour-de-force on the legal concepts of standing along with also paternity. Judge Boonstra correctly concludes in which dismissal of Sprenger’s claim should not be affirmed yet rather, the case should be remanded to the family court for further discovery along with also an evidentiary hearing on:
- the precise date of conception;
- whether Mother was “incapable of procreation” at in which time;
- what representations were made by the Bickles to the family court during their second divorce proceeding; along with also perhaps most significantly,
- DNA paternity testing.
Since his first case was filed from the Benzie County Family Court under the old Paternity Act, Mr. Sprenger has re-filed the case under the brand-new law, i.e. the Revocation of Paternity Act. in which case too was dismissed, much on the same grounds as his first case. Not surprisingly, Sprenger has appealed in which case too; he’s not taking in which sitting down.