LANSING — A bipartisan group of legislators are working together in an effort to raise awareness for the group Dads by Default, an organization to support men who have been improperly notified by court processors and declared dads by default. In such cases, men become financially and legally responsible for children they did not father.

“This injustice is causing undue hardship on men who were not properly notified and could negatively impact their ability to obtain employment, new lines of credit and financial security in the future,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), chair of the Detroit Caucus. “I’ve spoken with members of this group who have paid upward of $30,000 for a child that is not theirs. We must make these men whole so they can move on with their lives in a productive manner.”

State Reps. Jim Runestad (R-Milford), Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint), John Reilly (R-Lake Orion), and Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) all joined Rep. Gay-Dagnogo to receive the group as they finished their “Walk for Justice” from Detroit to Lansing. The group arrived at about 9 a.m. Thursday. Rep. Gay-Dagnogo saw the group off several days prior from the 8th House District with food and water. The men walked in 90 degree weather to advocate for fathers throughout the state who were burdened with debt unfairly because of kinks in the judicial system. To address the issue legislatively, Rep. Runestad will be introducing a package of bills with bipartisan support, including that of his colleague state Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township).

“False establishment of paternity can lead to incorrect medical advice for children and wreak havoc on families and finances,” said Rep. Runestad. “My colleagues and I are working together to require best practices be used for service to potential fathers, including notification of the right to DNA testing, while also ensuring that wages do not continue to be garnished from the wrong men.”