Establishing paternity in Michigan is important for many different reasons, from creating family ties for your child to securing financial support. What is paternity? It is simply the state of being someone’s father. Paternity does not necessarily refer to biological fatherhood, but rather to legal parenthood and the rights and responsibilities that come with being a child’s parent. For instance, when paternity is established, the father has the right to seek custody and parenting time with the child, while the father also has a duty to provide support for the child.
In Michigan, a spouse automatically becomes the legal parent when a woman gives birth to a child in wedlock. However, there are scenarios in which biological parentage may be uncertain, or in which proof of parentage may be required for legal reasons.
If, for example, a couple is divorcing and one or both does not want the male spouse to remain the legal parent of a child or children that are not his biological offspring, paternity must be established. This also applies in cases of annulment where a husband states fraud as his grounds for annulment based on the fact that a pregnant wife (at the time of marriage) was carrying another man’s child that the husband assumed to be his.
Additionally, a man who believes a child is his may seek paternity testing for the purposes of becoming a legal parent, gaining parental rights, seeking custody, and forming a relationship with his child or children. Women may seek proof of paternity to secure child support or determine ultimate custody of a child or children.
There are many situations in which establishing paternity is desirable. However, you should first understand paternity test laws in the state of Michigan, as well as how they apply to your particular circumstances.
Depending upon the specific facts of the case, establishing paternity can be a complicated process. If you have questions about filing a paternity case or establishing paternity in Michigan, an experienced attorney at Kizy Law can answer your questions regarding your specific circumstances.
How Does The State Of Michigan Establish Paternity?
When the parents of a child are married, there is typically not a reason to establish paternity. According to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, the fact sheet the Department uses states that if a child’s parents are married either at the time of the child’s birth, or at the time when the mother became pregnant with the child, then the mother’s husband is the legal father of the child.
However, when parents are unmarried, legal steps must be taken in order to establish paternity. Sometimes these steps involve establishing the child’s biological father. In other cases, biological fatherhood need not be established in order for the child to have a legal father. The following are the ways in which parents can establish paternity:
- 1) The unmarried parent(s) can voluntarily agree to name the child’s father (in which case the named father’s status as biological father is irrelevant);
- 2) The unmarried parent(s) can request that the court assist in the establishment of paternity (in which case genetic testing usually will be done to establish the biological father of the child).
How Can I Establish Paternity In Michigan?
Paternity can be established in four different places:
- At the time of the child’s birth in the hospital, when the father’s name is added to the birth record/birth certificate;
- At the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services office;
- At the county Registrar’s Office; or
- Online through the completion of the Affidavit of Parentage form.
Filing A Paternity Action In Michigan
If you need to file a paternity case, a fact sheet from the Michigan Courts clarifies that the action must be filed in the county where the mother lives. If the mother and the child do not live in Michigan, then the actions should be filed in the county where the alleged father lives or has been located.
After a paternity action is filed, there will be a paternity hearing before the court. At the hearing, if the father refuses to acknowledge paternity, the mother, alleged father, and child may be required to submit to a blood test to establish paternity. Even so, an alleged father may dispute the outcome of the test, resulting in a trial at which the court will determine paternity.
Once paternity has been positively established, by test or court determination, the judge will move on to determining custody and child support. This process can be fairly simple or extremely difficult, depending on whether or not the parties involved are willing to cooperate and come to an amicable arrangement.
If terms of custody, visitation, and/or parenting time are agreed upon by parents, the custodial arrangement will likely be decided as part of the case. If not, temporary custody will be assigned until a custody hearing. The judge will also set an amount for child support payments based on the Michigan Child Support Formula, and may include additional payments for the costs of childbirth, blood tests (to establish paternity), and other expenses.
In certain cases, Michigan courts have given parental rights and obligations to a party that is not the biological parent of the child. This happens if a man knowingly marries a pregnant woman and assumes the status of the child’s father; this man might be barred from denying paternity in Michigan.
The stakes are high in any paternity case, and you want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. This is best accomplished by hiring a qualified paternity attorney Michigan to guide you through the process.
Changing the Birth Records in Michigan
In Michigan, once an order of filiation is entered establishing paternity, the court clerk must notify the director of community health to correct the birth record of the child to include the father’s information. The mother may also request to change the child’s last name to reflect the father’s last name.