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Don't blame judge for child-custody fiasco

• Nov 6, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Judges and prosecutors across the state of Michigan, we suspect, are reviewing their procedures for reviewing paternity complaints following the Christopher Mirasolo fiasco in Sanilac County.

Before anyone starts pointing fingers, though, everyone should know that blame for that disaster — in which Mirasolo was granted parental and custody rights to a child conceived during a sexual assault — is murky at best.

What's most clear is that the victim of Mirasolo's assault set in motion the sequence of events that led to protesters crowding the courthouse lawn in Sandusky.

What is less clear is whether she knew what she was doing. She applied for welfare benefits in Michigan, and the Department of Health and Human services required her to seek child support as a condition of receiving other benefits. The department grants good-cause exemptions for the parental support requirement in cases such as Mirasolo's. We can't tell if the mother was told that, and if she was told, whether she understood it.

We also can't tell if her lawyer knew it, understood it, or if she just ignored it for the sake of publicity.

Regardless, the woman submitted a paternity complaint to the Sanilac prosecutor's office, which signed it and presented it to the judge, who ruled in the woman's favor and ordered child support — as well as the now-controversial custody and parenting provisions.

We have seen the paternity complaint. It is signed by the woman and contains no information that would lead anyone in the courthouse to believe Mirasolo is anything more than the father of a child born out of wedlock in 2009.

But this is 2017, and most of us wouldn't make restaurant reservations without turning first to Google. We understand that courts and prosecutors are busy, and in a paternity complaint the first priority is probably the financial welfare of the child. On the other hand, Google needs only a few seconds to turn up skeletons in Mirasolo's closet — including his state prison profile and his new Wikipedia page. A few more clicks bring up his bearded mugshot at the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.

It seems a couple of check boxes on the paternity complaint form and a few minutes of internet sleuthing could have saved everyone a lot of anguish and outrage.

— TIMES HERALD/PORT HURON (AP)

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