THE LEGAL SIDE OF A PATERNITY CASE
Parents who were not married to each other at the time their child was born will be required to establish paternity. Parents who were married at the time their child was born are not required to establish paternity, as it is automatically established through the marriage. Parents can voluntarily acknowledge paternity by executing an affidavit of parentage. If one parent does not want to sign the affidavit of parentage, either parent may file a motion with the court to establish paternity.
THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF A PATERNITY CASE
LACK OF TRUST
Parents who were not married to each other when their child was born may not have a significant relationship with each other, may not have lived together, and therefore may have no trust relationship with each other. In some cases, the parents may know very little about each other. This causes a distinct issue in paternity cases. When parents are married, they build a trust relationship. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses as a parent. In a paternity case, there are different emotions to address. There may be no real relationship with the other parent, and this may lead to one parent believing the other parent is not equipped to appropriately care for the child. The lack of trust between the parents can also cause issues such as the belief that one parent can micromanage what takes place at the other parent’s house.
THE MOTHER’S VIEWPOINT
Mothers may feel that the father was not there during her pregnancy, or absent during the first months of the child’s life. They have resentment that the father is now stepping forward saying they want parenting time. The mother feels that they have been the primary caretaker for the child. Months or years of the child’s life could have passed, and now father says he wants to be an active part of the child’s life. Or, the father says he wants to be a part of the child’s life, the mother encourages the relationship, and father is not consistent with his relationship with the child. Therefore, mothers often question the fairness of fathers being awarded time with the child when they have been unwilling to voluntarily be a part of the child’s life.
THE FATHER’S VIEWPOINT
Fathers feel that the mother controls every aspect of the child’s life, to include whether they get to see the child, and if so when. Fathers feel that they have no access to the child and that any parenting time between the father and child is at the mercy of the mother. Fathers feel they have no say in the child’s life. It’s true that until the father has a court order determining parentage and parenting time, the mother has sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor child. Until a father is willing to step forward and establish his paternity, the mother remains in total control. The court will gladly address parentage, custody, and parenting time for fathers. But the father must be proactive and take action with the court. Fathers also believe courts are against them, and that the mother automatically gets everything she asks for in court. This simply is not the case. The family court is a court of equity and will make decisions in the best interest of the child when determining custody and parenting time.
SEEK LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR YOUR PATERNITY CASE. GRAND RAPIDS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, BARRY, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
Paternity cases can be a frustrating for both parents. And paternity in Michigan is a complicated procedure with long-term implications. It’s important to understand your rights and duties so that you will be in the best position to move forward during and after you establish your parentage. Advice from an experienced family law attorney can make all the difference in your outcome. At Schmitt Law, PLLC, we work to ensure that our clients have the information and guidance they need to make the right decisions for their family and their future. Contact Schmitt Law, PLLC today by completing our online contact form, or calling us at (616) 608-4634 to schedule a consultation. Our office is located at 401 Hall Street SW, Suite 112D, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.