Bob Hirschfeld on ''Hirschenhorn - Unwed Father''

From:    Bob Hirschfeld
Subject: Hirschenhorn - Unwed Father

Since traffic seems slow, I thought I'd bring up an appropriate subject for

Arizona has a rebuttable presumption that a child born during a marriage is
that of the Husband. That is, the actual biological father, if he is not
the husband, has the right to have the courts decide legal paternity (with
blood tests). But in California, the preumption is not rebuttable. Michael
Hirschenhorn, the unwed father, tried to preserve his visitation with his
daughter after the mother became angry and cut off the ongoing
relationship. The California courts refused to allow Hirschenhorn to even
appear in the case; he had no "standing". The estranged husband, for
whatever reason, helped the mother to resist Hirschenhorn. The U.S.
Supreme Court, in the Michel H. case, refused to address the
constitutional issue (by one vote, which later seemed to waver), and
therefore failed to strike down the California law. (About a year ago.)

Here's another, very current, discussion topic regarding an unwed father
and pre-adoption rights after termination of parental rights:

In an Arizona case, the parents were not married. The father left the
mother and married a different woman. There was ongoing visitation, and
the child (as in the CA case) knows and loves its father. The mother, in
an attempt to goad the father into leaving his wife for the mother, filed
two years ago a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights in the
Juvenile Court. Instead of rising to the bait, the father walked into the
hearing, said he wasn't fighting, and walked out. His rights were
terminated. He was not advised that he had the right to a free attorney,
nor of the consequences of the termination. Immediately thereafter, the
mother increased rather than cut off the now-terminated father's
visitation with the child, thereby strengthening the actual relationship,
even though the legal relationship had been cut off. Recently, because the
father still refuses to leave his wife, the mother cut off access and
successfully sought child support. (Support does not terminate with
parental rights in Arizona; it only terminates upon adoption, and there
has been no adoption.) An attempt to reinstate visitation in the Domestic
Relations support case failed. There is now an action pending under the
Juvenile Severance case number to reinstate the father's parental rights.
This is a test case, since nothing in Arizona law provides a mechanism for
such reinstatement. Comments?

(Via National Congress for Men and Children BBS, 1:114/74 (602) 840 4752)