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    Determining Paternity in Michigan

    Whether a couple is married or unmarried in Michigan when they have a baby, sharing a child is complicated when paternity comes into question. If there is a divorce, break-up, or if there was never a relationship to begin with between the parent, paternity affects everything from child support to parenting time to child custody.

    Establishing Paternity

    Paternity tests have long been fodder for dramatic daytime talk shows. The reality is that paternity questions are far from entertainment to the people who are living with that kind of doubt. Paternity situations can take many forms:

    • A mother may not be certain who the father of her child is.

    • A father may not be convinced that the child he is alleged to have fathered is his.

    • A mother may not want a father to know he has a child.

    A father may want to prove he is a child’s father so he can have parenting time with the child.

    When a child is born in or out of wedlock, the mother is required to fill out the documentation for the child’s birth certificate so the certificate can be legally filed and printed. Sometimes mothers choose to leave this line blank. It’s a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it can happen in a moment of anger, revenge, or simply wanting to maintain anonymity for the sake of the child or the father.

    Regardless of the motivation for omitting the father’s name from the birth certificate, this choice can reverberate for a long time. The absence of a father’s name on a child’s birth certificate can wreak havoc in the lives of men who are questioning paternity or want to prove their paternity. A mother who omits a father from the birth certificate can also be affected – she will have no right to child support if she did not legally name her child’s father.

    When a married couple has a child, it is assumed in the state of Michigan that the child is a product of the marriage. The father has a right to custody and parenting time and, if the court decides as such, the obligation to pay child support should the couple divorce.

    Understanding the Affidavit of Parentage in Michigan

    If a child is born to an unmarried couple in the state of Michigan, the father is typically given an Affidavit of Parentage to sign at the hospital, voluntarily acknowledging that he is the father of the child and giving the mother initial custody of the child. The mother must sign this document too.

    The affidavit could be thought of as a backup birth certificate that a father holds to show his parentage, even if the mother omits the father’s name from the original birth certificate. A father who is not 100 percent certain of his paternity, however, would be unwise to sign the form without seeking legal advice because with his signature he waives his rights to blood tests or a trial to determine paternity.

    Unmarried fathers have rights, even if they are not present at the birth of their child. They also have obligations, such as child support. Signing the affidavit establishes the father of the child and he can put his name on the birth certificate to assert his right to custody and parenting time.

    If a father finds out that he is not the father of a child and did sign the affidavit, he must file an action requesting the court to revoke his acknowledgment. If a man has acted as a child’s father for some time, however, this effort may not be successful.

    How Paternity Affects Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support

    A Complaint for Paternity, filed by either mother or father, alleges that the man in the petition is the father of the child in question. If the parties agree about paternity, an Order of Filiation, Custody, and Parenting Time can be ordered allowing a father to assert his rights for custody and parenting time. If either party disputes paternity, it is up to the father to bring a motion for DNA testing to confirm paternity.

    Should the father’s paternity be confirmed and custody, support, or parenting time is in dispute, the process will continue as in a divorce case whether the couple was married or not. A Friend of the Court representative or judge will have to determine how to fairly settle the matters.

    Get Help with Paternity Matters in Michigan

    Paternity matters are complicated. Any time a father’s parentage is questioned, a child’s life is affected. At Michigan Divorce Help in Mount Clemens, Michigan, we work with our clients to expedite paternity issues to minimize disruption to a child’s life and ensure that a father and mother receive the rights to which they are entitled.

    Contact us to schedule your no-cost initial consultation to discuss paternity matters, whether you are the mother or father, whether you want to confirm or dispute paternity.

    Femminineo Law
    110 S Main St # 200
    Mt Clemens, MI 48043

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