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How Can I Establish Legal Paternity in Michigan?

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Family Law |

Establishing legal paternity is a vital step for fathers seeking to secure their rights and responsibilities towards their children. In Michigan, this process is crucial in ensuring that children born to unmarried parents have the same legal benefits as those born to married parents. Whether you are looking to foster a relationship with your child or meet your obligations as a parent, understanding the paternity establishment process is essential.

The Process of Establishing Paternity in Michigan

The State of Michigan recognizes three methods for establishing legal paternity: voluntary acknowledgment, administrative establishment, and judicial determination.

Voluntary Acknowledgment

The easiest way to establish paternity in Michigan is through a voluntary acknowledgment. This process involves both parents signing an “Acknowledgment of Parentage” form at the hospital or birthing center after the child’s birth. Two witnesses over the age of 18 and not related to either parent must also sign this form.

Once this form is filed with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), it becomes a legal document establishing paternity. Parents have up to 60 days after signing to rescind their acknowledgment, but after that period has passed, it becomes irrevocable.

Administrative Establishment

Parents can establish paternity through administrative means if the voluntary acknowledgment process is not an option. This process involves either parent filing a request with MDHHS to establish paternity. The agency will then conduct genetic testing and use the results as evidence to establish paternity if necessary.

Judicial Determination

The court may be involved in cases where there is a paternity dispute or one party refuses to cooperate in establishing paternity. Either parent can file a complaint with the court, and the judge will order genetic testing if needed. The court will then decide on legal paternity based on the test results.

Benefits of Establishing Legal Paternity

Establishing legal paternity offers several benefits for both the child and the parents involved. These include:

  • Medical Benefits: Knowing a child’s medical history is vital for their health, and establishing paternity allows access to this information.
  • Child Development: According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, children with involved fathers are more likely to do better in school, have higher self-esteem, have less behavioral problems, and stay out of jail. 
  • Financial Support: Establishing legal paternity ensures that the non-custodial parent contributes financially towards the child’s upbringing through child support payments.
  • Inheritance Rights: Children have a right to inherit from their biological parents, and establishing paternity secures this right.
  • Emotional Bonding: For fathers seeking to establish a relationship with their children, legal paternity provides opportunities for visitation and custody arrangements.

Importance of Seeking Legal Advice

Seeking legal aid when attempting to establish paternity is crucial for navigating the legal process and ensuring that all procedures are correctly followed. A knowledgeable attorney can provide invaluable guidance, helping you understand your rights and represent you in court if disputes arise. Legal professionals can assist in accurately filing the necessary paperwork, interpret family law in the context of your unique situation, and facilitate DNA testing procedures. Moreover, securing legal aid can prevent potential delays and complications that may arise from unintentional mistakes, thereby expediting the process and protecting the child’s best interests. 

Secure Your Child’s Future

Establishing legal paternity in Michigan is crucial for fathers seeking to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. By gaining legal recognition, fathers can ensure their children receive the necessary support and benefits for a secure future. If you are facing paternity issues, don’t navigate this complex process alone. Seek legal aid to ensure a fair and effective resolution.

At the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins, we have years of experience guiding fathers through the paternity establishment process. With a commitment to achieving fair outcomes, we are here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn how we can help you establish your legal paternity and secure a brighter future for your child.