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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Paternity matters are complicated. Any time a father’s parentage is questioned, a child’s life is affected. At Femminineo Attorneys 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 free initial consultation to discuss paternity matters, whether you are the mother or father, whether you want to confirm or dispute paternity.
Most lawyers are in a general practice and do some of everything. One of our main focuses is on Family law and being expert at divorce, custody and support matters.
We are in court daily, working with the family court judges, their staff and clerks, the Friend of the Court office, the Bar Association and other attorneys working in this area. We pride ourselves on fighting hard for our clients while working well with everyone.
Our extensive experience and strong relationship with the courts and our peers leads many judges and attorneys to hire us to act as Mediators in other Family Law cases. Make no mistake; having a strong working relationship with the court can have a massive impact on your case. Unlike most attorneys, we have no fear of the court room and are in trial regularly against the best in the business. We see the judges every week and maintain strong ties with their staff.
Although every attorney can “handle” your case, Femminineo Attorneys cares about you and your family. We work extremely hard to keep this difficult process civil and to shelter your children from as much of the negative facets as possible.
Once your case is concluded, we will be there to help you with any post-judgment problems that may arise.
Everyone’s financial situation is different and we work with our clients to formulate a fee arrangement that works within your means.
We have handled every possible situation involving domestic law. We will do everything possible to wrap up your case in a timely manner, avoiding delays that cause unnecessary legal fees.
When your case cannot be easily solved, we will fight hard and use all of our resources to win. Unlike most attorneys, we have no fear of the court room and we regularly win cases against the best in the business at trial.
Unlike many attorneys who have a part-time typist and work 30 hours a week, we have an expert staff available all day long to assist you and provide immediate service. We are available to our clients 24 hours a day through our hot line at 586-854-3654.
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The information presented within this website is for general information purposes and is NOT and should not be considered as being “legal advice”. You should not act on any information presented herein without the verifying same with your attorney.