Dad files appeal over law allowing mom to decide who raises child born out of extramarital affair

DETROIT (WXYZ) -  

A man who lost rights to his child because the baby was born during an affair with a married woman is not giving up his fight.

He wants to be part of the child's life, and he's taken his case to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The 7 Action News Investigators first told you about this unusual case which is the result of a little known law that passed last summer.  Now the father who was cut out of his child's life is challenging the constitutionality of this new law. He lost in a lower court but he's determined to have some connection to the son who was the product of an adulterous affair.

The question now before the appeals court is whether Aaron Grimes should be denied access to his son because the child was born during an affair with a married woman, Shawnita VanHook-Williams while she was married and he knew she was married.

A little known law, passed last summer, called the Revocation of Paternity Act says when that happens, the mother gets to decide whether the biological dad will be part of the equation. In this case, the mother said no.  She and her husband are raising the child and Grimes is left out in the cold.

Appeals Court Judge Kathleen Jansen noted that the law passed by the legislature is very specific on this issue.

"The legislature has made a choice that in certain circumstances if you engage in a relationship with a married woman there are only certain exceptions on which you will be able to challenge the paternity of that child," Judge Jansen told Grimes attorney.

But Grimes is not going down without a fight. His lawyer argued that this new law, never tested in a higher court, is unconstitutional, because it denies equal protection under the law.

"Because if it was an unmarried woman, no one says give me that baby and give it to married lover and his wife. And it's not like a football and you're playing keep away. His rights should be the same as her rights," said attorney Mary Blaney.

But the attorney representing VanHook-Williams, the mother, argued that grimes knew that she was married from the onset of the four year relationship and the law is the law.

"In order for the statute to be changed it is a legislative matter. The trial court did not error because the statute is clear and the judge at the trial court followed the law your honor," attorney LaVonne Bannister Jackson argued.

7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis asked the father, Grimes, if he had any more hope following the oral arguments that were presented to the court.

"I still have hope. My overall thing is I just want to be a father to my son, so I'll never give up hope on that," Grimes said.

The judges noted that there is precedent in the Supreme Court and in one hundred years of common law supporting statutes designed to keep the family unit together.  Grimes' attorney noted that the mother was not acting to keep her family together when she engaged in a four-year-long affair.

The court will now study written briefs and it could be weeks or months before a decision is handed down.

 

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