If a child in Michigan is born to unmarried parents, paternity will need to be established. It can be as easy as both parents voluntarily signing an Affidavit of Parentage. Or it will require the assistance of the court to establish paternity.
WHAT IS AN AFFIDAVIT OF PARENTAGE?
An Affidavit of Parentage is a form signed by both unmarried parents that acknowledges, under the penalty of perjury, that they are the biological parents of a child.
CAN I FILE A CUSTODY CASE WITHOUT AN AFFIDAVIT OF PARENTAGE?
If you and the other parent signed and filed an Affidavit of Parentage, either of you may file a custody case to establish custody, parenting time, and child support. However, if you do not have an Affidavit of Parentage, you will need to establish paternity before you can file a case for custody, parenting time, and child support.
HOW DO I ESTABLISH PATERNITY VOLUNTARILY?
A father’s legal paternity must be established before custody, parenting time, and child support can be established. To voluntarily establish paternity, the mother and father can sign and file a sworn statement called an Affidavit of Parentage. There is no requirement that a DNA test must be taken. Once both parents have signed the Affidavit of Parentage, it must be filed with the Central Paternity Registry in Michigan.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I SIGN AN AFFIDAVIT OF PARENTAGE?
Once you have voluntarily signed and Affidavit of Parentage, it establishes paternity. When there is an Affidavit of Parentage in place, paternity is now established.
Under Michigan law, once an Affidavit of Parentage is signed:
- It gives initial custody to the mother until either parent starts a custody case.
- It allows the child’s mother to seek child support from the child’s father.
- It allows the child’s father to seek custody and/or parenting time with the child.
- It allows the father’s name to be added to the child’s birth certificate.
WHEN CAN YOU SIGN AN AFFIDAVIT OF PARENTAGE?
An Affidavit of Parentage often gets signed by the parents when their child is born, but it can be done any time during the child’s life.
HOW DO I ESTABLISH PATERNITY THROUGH THE COURT?
Either parent may seek to establish paternity. And signing the Affidavit of Parentage is voluntary. If either parent does not agree to sign an Affidavit of Parentage, it can’t be used to establish paternity. If this is your situation, then either the mother, father or prosecuting attorney can file a paternity case.
If court intervention is necessary, the first step is for a complaint to be filed with the court, and a hearing to be set. Next, you would serve the other parent with the complaint and notice of the hearing. A hearing will be held wherein either party may request a DNA test. If a DNA test is requested by either party, then that test will be court ordered. The father, mother, and child will be required to go to a lab and provide samples for the DNA test. Once the results of the DNA test are done, and it is determined that the party is the father, then the case may move forward to determine custody, parenting time, and child support.
WHAT IF I’M NOT SURE I’M THE FATHER?
If you have any doubt about whether you are the child’s biological father, you should obtain a DNA test before you agree to sign the Affidavit of Parentage. You must be 100% certain you are the father before you voluntarily sign the Affidavit of Parentage. If you are sure you’re the father of the child, the Affidavit of Parentage can be signed so that you can establish yourself as the child’s biological and legal father.
WHY SHOULD YOU REQUEST A DNA TEST?
When you sign the Affidavit of Parentage, you waive your right to request a DNA test, and waive your right to contest paternity through the court. If a DNA test shows that the alleged father is the biological father, the judge will sign an Order of Filiation. An Order of Filiation establishes paternity, making the alleged father the legal father. Custody, parenting time, and child support decisions would then be made in the paternity case.
WHAT IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THE PATERNITY TEST?
If the purported father disagrees with the results of the DNA test, then a trial will take place in which the court will either establish an order of paternity or, if appropriate, dismiss the claim.
GET HELP ESTABLISHING RIGHTS TO YOUR CHILD. GRAND RAPIDS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
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 St., Suite 112D, Grand Rapids, MI 49504