Establishing paternity isn’t a subject that comes up for the average married couple expecting a baby. If a child is born or conceived during a marriage, the law automatically presumes that the husband is the biological father of the child, and grants him legal rights as a father.
However, in cases where the mother engages in an extramarital affair, or the child is born and/or conceived out of wedlock, the issue of paternity can be of great concern. So what happens if there are questions about the identity of the baby’s father? How does one go about establishing paternity in Michigan?
Currently the three most common ways used to establish paternity are an affidavit of parentage, a DNA test, and a court order. For children born to a married couple, the State of Michigan automatically names the mother’s husband as the child’s father unless the couple specifies otherwise.
Nevertheless, for an unmarried mother who either doesn’t know the identity of her child’s father, or knows the father’s identity but the man in question is denying his role, there are options. In the manner there are also options for a father who is seeking to legitimize his claim to a child.
The Michigan Paternity Act:
First, it is important to understand the law. The Michigan Paternity Act was created for two very important purposes:
- to promote the legitimization of children born out of wedlock, and
- to provide a means by which custody, parenting time, and child support can be determined for children born out of wedlock
Signed into law in 2012, Michigan’s Paternity Act offers a more updated version of the former law. Previously, if a woman was married at the time that she conceived or birthed a child, even if that child’s biological father was not her husband, the husband was immediately given the legal title of father. Similarly, if a child was born out of wedlock and a man, other than the biological father, came forward and signed an Acknowledgement of Parentage, it was legally granted. In both cases, the biological father suddenly had no legal claim to the child.
In the updated version of the law, an unmarried biological father can petition the court to establish paternity. This way, even if another man is listed as the legal father of the child, if the biological father can prove his claim, he can establish paternity thereby enabling him to seek custody and/or visitation with his child.
A legal action to determine paternity under this act can be initiated in the court by either the mother, the putative (presumed) father, or even DHS if the child is receiving public assistance benefits. It is important to note, that once a father has previously acknowledged paternity by signing an affidavit of parentage, he can still legally seek to prove otherwise.
In the next segment we will be discussing the means by which paternity is established here in Michigan. Join us for a discussion on DNA testing, court orders and affidavits. Until then, if you or a loved one have questions about paternity, custody or visitation, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our experienced family law attorneys are available to help you with this difficult subject.