Paternity: Michigan paternity and child custody attorney.
Michigan’s No Fault Divorce Act and the process of getting divorced. The Divorce Process – Michigan attorneys that can help.
Paternity/children born out of wedlock (by an unmarried couple)
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 – Other issues