Family Law Attorneys in Michigan
Paternity is another name for fatherhood. Establishing paternity in Michigan means determining who is a child’s “legal” father. Every child has a right to have a relationship with both parents. By establishing paternity of children born out of wedlock, the child will receive certain rights and benefits as well as the opportunity to establish a relationship with his or her father. If the parents of a child are married to each other at the time the child is born paternity is automatically established, unless a court has determined that the husband is not the father.
If the parents of a child are not married to each other when the child is born, paternity must be established.
- Voluntarily: If the parents agree that the father is the biological father of the child, they can voluntarily establish paternity by both signing a form called an Affidavit of Parentage before a notary public. This is often done in the hospital immediately following the birth of the child, but may also be done at a later time. When completed, the Affidavit of Parentage must be filed with the Central Paternity Registry, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Department of Community Health. The father is the “legal” father once the Affidavit of Parentage is filed. A father can sign an Affidavit of Parentage even if he is married to someone else. By signing an Affidavit of Parentage, the father is voluntarily acknowledging paternity and is accepting the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. These responsibilities include to support the child and to comply with an order of child support. The mother of the child initially has custody of the child unless the parents agree in writing or custody is determined by a court. However, a father may assert a claim for parenting time or custody. By signing an Affidavit of Parentage, the parents give up their right to genetic testing to determine paternity.
- Involuntarily: If either parent disputes paternity, a court will determine who is the “legal” father by the filing of a court action. The action will be governed by the Michigan Paternity Act, MCL 722.711 and will be filed in the circuit court of the county where either the mother or child resides. The Petitioner is the person seeking to establish paternity .The Petitioner can be the mother, the father or the Michigan Department of Human Services if the child is receiving public assistance. Genetic or DNA testing may be required to determine the biological father if the alleged father disputes paternity. When paternity is established through the court process, an Order of Filiation will be entered naming the “legal“ father of the child. Once paternity is established, the child is entitled to support from the father and a child support order will be entered. Additional benefits may also be available to the child by establishing paternity including Social Security and Veteran’s Benefits as well as the father’s medical or life insurance benefits.
Establishing paternity gives children the advantages and benefits of having a relationship with both parents. Chapman Law Group is dedicated to assisting our clients with all aspects of family law. If you have any questions or need assistance with a family law issue, please call Chapman Law Group to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys.