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In The News

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Nichols Law Firm Client Gets his Family Back in An Amazing Court of Appeals Case

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Family Law

Imagine that you are in a relationship with a woman. You are really in love. You think she loves you, too. Maybe she does indeed love you. Except, she has a relationship on the "side."

She struggles with drugs. Her struggle is your struggle. You help her fight to beat the demons. She is fighting hard and she seems to be mostly winning the fight to stay clean. Then you find out that she is pregnant. You are as happy as you've ever been. You're about to be parents. You even decide to name the child after you - he is going to be your namesake. Can life get any better?

Then, the love of your life loses her struggle with the demon that is drugs. You are left to take care of your namesake all by yourself. As if it cannot get any worse - here it comes: you find out that the mother of your child was sneaking off to be with someone else - and now he is claiming to be the father of YOUR child. He is threatening a lawsuit. Could this nightmare just end, already? Pinch me so that I can wake up.

The nightmare does not end - in the summer of 2023, a trial court in Ingham County ruled that the child was the biological son of "the other guy." We did not contest that fact because DNA evidence was irrefutable. So, who would fight like this for a son, who is not even his DNA? A pretty amazing guy, who the Nichols Law Firm is proud to call "client."

The trial court rules in favor of "the other guy" after 2 days of trial testimony and evidence. It was a devastating blow for all of us in the Nichols Law Firm family, but we were not done. We referred our heroic client to the Speaker Law Firm, which is an appellate specialist. On January 18, 2024, the Court of Appeals issued its opinion in "Taylor v Brown," completely vindicating our position AND ordering the trial court to immediately issue an Order to return the child to his father.

The trial was about whether or not the Plaintiff, Taylor, could properly get the court to revoke the affidavit of parentage signed by our client. An affidavit of parentage is a sworn statement that is signed by someone that has the effect of making that person the legal father of a child who is born out of wedlock. When a child is born to a married couple, the child is lawfully presumed to be the child of the married couple.

A ROPA cause of action is complicated, with specific statutory sections and requirements that must be met. In this case, we filed motions to dismiss the initial complaint and to strike the affidavit. The trial court allowed the "other guy" to amend his affidavit and the Court of Appeals held that the amended affidavit did not meet any of the "prongs," such as a mistake of fact or fraud to allow of the Affidavit of Parentage that was signed by our heroic client to be withdrawn: "the trial court legally erred in failing to grant defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint,"
Taylor v. Brown, No. 366736, 2024 WL 207022, at *7 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2024).

We recorded a podcast about this amazing case a week after the Court of Appeals issued its ruling and the child was returned. You can hear that story in vivid detail elsewhere on our website. Remember: never surrender - especially when you are committed to results.

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.