Michael H. v. Gerald D.

491 U.S. 110 (1989)


Petitioner Michael H. (P) fathered a child with Respondent's wife, Carole D., while she was married to the Respondent, Gerald D. (D). After the baby was born, the wife allowed P to hold the baby out in the public as his own. The Wife and baby briefly resided with P. The Wife prepared a stipulation that P was her child's natural father, but she failed to legalize this document. When the Wife reconciled with D, she denied P visitation rights to the child. P then filed suit to establish the child's paternity through an evidentiary hearing. D intervened and was granted summary judgment based on a California law that presumes paternity in favor of the husband whenever a wife is impregnated by another man if the husband is not sterile and the wife resides with the husband. This law may be set aside only by contrary blood test produced upon motion made by the husband or wife within two years of the child's birth date or, if the natural father has filed an affidavit acknowledging paternity, by the wife. In addition, the trial court denied P's visitation privileges based on a California state law that precludes visitation to individuals lacking paternity upon a mother's wishes. On appeal, P asserted that the Superior Court's application of § 621 had violated his procedural and substantive due process rights. Victoria also raised a due process challenge to the statute, seeking to preserve her de facto relationship with P, as well as with D. She contended, in addition, that, as § 621 allows the husband and, at least to a limited extent, the mother, but not the child, to rebut the presumption of legitimacy, it violates the child's right to equal protection. Finally, she asserted a right to continued visitation with P under § 4601. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court and upheld the constitutionality of the statute. The California Supreme Court denied discretionary review. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed.