Myths Regarding Fathers’ Rights in Michigan
It has become more common for a child to be born out of wedlock in Michigan in recent years. The trend brings with it an increase in the number and complexity of questions about paternity, otherwise known as parentage. Many of today’s fathers are seeking to establish paternity rather than avoid it, so they can exercise the rights that come with fatherhood. When being a part of your child’s life is important to you, it is critical to realize that there are only a few legally enforceable routes to paternity under state law. Therefore, you should consult with an experienced Michigan paternity attorney and review some of the myths that do not grant parental rights.
Agreements Regarding Paternity
It is common for unmarried parents to come to an agreement on custody, parenting time, financial support, and other issues related to raising the child. Unfortunately, it is just as common for these agreements to break down. Perhaps you breach the agreement by failing to make a payment for some expense or you are late in returning the child home after a visit; the child’s mother responds by refusing parenting time and, from there, the once-amicable agreement goes south. Without establishing parentage, you have no rights to contest the mother’s actions and gain access to your child.
Child Support Payments
As a father, you recognize your child’s financial needs and want to be supportive in paying such costs as living expenses, education, travel, and extracurricular activities. It is understandable that you make the choice to pay child support, but doing so does not give you fathers’ rights under Michigan law. You cannot force parenting time or be involved in the child’s life without an official order for paternity.
Custody and Parenting Time
You may enjoy significant time with your child, and your home may actually be his or her residence for all practical purposes. The mother may not even be a part of the child’s life, and you do not know her whereabouts. Still, circumstances do not grant paternity or parental rights, even when you are effectively maintaining a single parent household.
How to Establish Paternity
When a child’s parents are unmarried at birth, there are only two ways to establish parentage in Michigan:
- Affidavit of Parentage: This is a form where both parents acknowledge the biological father of the child, and it must be signed by mother and father. There is a fee for the Affidavit and it must be officially recorded to be valid; and,
- Paternity Action: You can also go to court to be officially recognized as the father, and you initiate the case by filing a petition. DNA testing is the primary form of proof in a paternity case.
Consult with a Michigan Paternity Lawyer
If you are a Michigan father seeking to establish paternity and take advantage of your fathers’ rights, please contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office at 616-698-0000 or visit our website. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your options at our Grand Rapids, MI office.