For fathers who are unmarried at the time their child is born, parental rights are not automatically given. In fact, in order to establish legal fatherhood of a child, a father must take specific legal actions. The following considers the benefits of establishing paternity, as well as how to establish paternity in Michigan:
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity presents benefits for both the child and the father. For the father, he will not have any legal rights over his child if paternity is not established. This means that he will not be allowed custody or visitation of his child, nor be allowed to make important decision about the child’s life, such as what type of healthcare the child should receive in a crisis, what religion the child should be raised, or where the child should go to school.
Establishing paternity is also important for a child as well. When paternity is established, a child can take comfort in knowing who their father is. A child can also receive benefits – like Social Security or disability benefits – as a result of establishing paternity that they otherwise would be barred from recovering.
How to Establish Paternity in Michigan
There are three basic ways for paternity to be established in Michigan according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:
Marriage at time of birth.
If the mother of the child and the father are married at the time of the child’s birth, then the mother’s husband is automatically recognized at the child’s legal father. (This can of course be a negative thing in the event that a man impregnates a woman while she is legally married to another man – Michigan laws now address this situation)
Affidavit of Parentage form.
If the mother and father are not married at the time of the child’s birth, but both agree that the male is indeed the child’s father, then both parents can sign an Affidavit of Parentage form to establish legal paternity.
Court order. If neither of the two routes above are pursued, paternity can be established via court order after the father and child submit to genetic testing to prove fatherhood.
Why You Need a Michigan Paternity Lawyer
Establishing paternity over your child is one of the most important things that you will ever do. If you have not established paternity, or there is a dispute about paternity between you and your child’s mother, we recommend that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
Paternity laws can be complex. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins, we have your best interests at heart. For a free case consultation where you can learn more about paternity and how to establish it, contact us today at 248-646-7980.