If a child is born out of wedlock, meaning that the couple was never married, then the situation is different from that of a divorce action. It must be noted that when a child is born, it is up to the mother to tell the hospital who the father is and whether he should be on the birth certificate. The mother is under no obligation to do this. Another document may also be filed with the State of Michigan, this is called an Affidavit of Parentage. This must be signed by the father if he so agrees that he is indeed the father. In Michigan when a couple is married it is presumed that the child is a product of the married couple. Without marriage there is no presumption even if the parties live together.
Even if the father is listed on the birth certificate and there is an Affidavit of Parentage filed with the State of Michigan, the father has no right to custody, parenting time or the obligation to pay support. Only after a complaint is filed and an order is entered by a court does the father have a right to custody, parenting time and support.
Either the mother or father can file an action for Paternity. The Complaint for Paternity is filed where the mother or child reside. In the complaint, either party is alleging that the man in the petition is the father. Evidence such as the birth certificate or an affidavit of parentage may be offered in the complaint. If the parties agree that the man is the father then an order can be entered between the parties called an Order of Filiation, Custody and Parenting Time. If either party disputes that the man in the complaint is the father then the party must bring a motion for DNA testing. Usually the party bringing the motion must pay for the tests, but many times the parties will split the cost. If the court orders DNA tests than the parties must submit the child to give a saliva sample for the test. The tests will tell usually by 99.9% accuracy if the man is the father.
If the parties agree that the man is the father or if it is determined via DNA tests then the parties must proceed. In proceeding with the case the Friend of the Court may get involved in the same way they do with divorce cases. Custody, support and parenting time are always issues that may be reviewed by the FOC. Please see all of the above mentioned sections involving the Friend of the Court (FOC), custody, support and parenting time.
If the parties cannot agree on custody, support and parenting time then again the same process is used as divorce cases. The parties can agree to have a FOC referee determine the issues or finally have the judge decide after trial. This can be very time consuming and expensive.
The court that issues the final order of paternity will have jurisdiction over the child until he or she graduates from high school or turns nineteen and six months (whichever occurs first). Having jurisdiction, the courts may always review custody, support and parenting time upon proper request of the parties.
It should be noted that either the mother or father can bring a complaint for paternity. However, if the mother is receiving any type of state assistance then the Prosecutor’s Office in the county where the mother resides will bring suit as long as someone is alleged to be the father. A mother may also request the Prosecutor’s Office to bring suit even if she is not receiving assistance. It should be noted that this process takes a far greater time than it does if a mother hires her own attorney. This is because of the enormous case load of the Prosecutor’s Office and their limited funding and staff.
It also should be noted that a complaint for paternity/custody can be brought at any time before the child reaches majority and by either party. In certain situations a complaint may be brought asking for back support, payment of medical expenses/insurance, confinement/birth expenses, child care and other expenses. If a child is no longer an infant, these back payments can be significant. Also, there are many times when the mother does not know where the father lives and process is actually effectuated by publication in a legal news. The problem with this is that the father will most likely never know that a default judgment was entered against him. If he finds out several years later then there may be a great deal of arrearages owed.
It must be emphasized that a father has no rights to custody or parenting time if the courts are not involved. There must be a complaint for a paternity. The parties simply cannot go to the friend of the court and ask them to enforce a matter between the parties.
Continue reading: The Divorce Process – Part VI. Other issues
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, Michigan Divorce Help 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.
At Michigan Divorce Help, your case will be handled by an experienced family law attorney. Each of our attorneys in our family law division has many years of experience in handling family law matters.
During traditional business hours, please call us at: (586) 954-9500
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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.