In Michigan, a spouse automatically becomes the legal parent when a woman gives birth to a child in wedlock. However, there are scenarios in which biological parentage may be uncertain, or in which proof of parentage may be required for legal reasons.
If, for example, a couple is divorcing and one or both does not want the male spouse to remain the legal parent of a child or children that are not his biological offspring, paternity must be established. This also applies in cases of annulment where a husband states fraud as his grounds for annulment based on the fact that a pregnant wife (at the time of marriage) was carrying another man’s child that the husband assumed to be his.
Additionally, a man who believes a child is his may seek paternity testing for the purposes of becoming a legal parent, gaining parental rights, seeking custody, and forming a relationship with his child or children. Women may seek proof of paternity to secure child support or determine ultimate custody of a child or children.
There are many situations in which establishing paternity is desirable. However, you should first understand paternity test laws in the state of Michigan, as well as how they apply to your particular circumstances.
Establishing Paternity in Michigan
There are a couple of different ways in which to establish paternity. The first is by filling out, signing, and filing an Affidavit of Parentage form. Both parents must voluntarily fill out and sign the form affirming that they are the natural parents of a child. The form must be witnessed and signed by a notary.
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This form is generally filled out at the time of birth and provided to hospital staff so that a complete and valid birth certificate can be issued. If the Affidavit of Parentage is filled out after a registered birth certificate has already been created, parents must fill out the Affidavit of Parentage AND an Application to Add a Father on a Michigan Birth Certificate in order to change the birth record.
A father may also choose to willingly sign a paternity acknowledgement, and this is often done to avoid a paternity case, since a paternity case cannot proceed once a paternity acknowledgement has been signed and filed with the court. In many instances, this allows a family support case to move forward without the need for a paternity case first.
Finally, paternity Michigan may be established through a paternity case. This type of case may be filed by a mother, a legal father, or an alleged biological father attempting to establish paternity for any number of reasons. The Office of Child Support of the Department of Health and Human Services may also ask a prosecutor to file such a case if a mother is eligible for child support services or is currently receiving public assistance.
Paternity Testing in Michigan
A man may either undergo paternity testing in Michigan voluntarily, or he may be compelled by the court to submit to testing. In most cases, this is conducted in relation to a paternity case, in which custody, child support, and general parenting issues are at stake.
Filing a Paternity Case
In order to launch a paternity case, a complaint must be filed by a plaintiff and the defendant must be served a summons and a notice of complaint. Next, a hearing will be scheduled to determine paternity and other issues such as custody and child support.
At the hearing, if the father refuses to acknowledge paternity, the mother, alleged father, and child may be required to submit to a blood test to establish paternity. Even so, an alleged father may dispute the outcome of the test, resulting in a trial at which the court will determine paternity.
Once paternity has been positively established, by test or court determination, the judge will move on to determining custody and child support. This process can be fairly simple or extremely difficult, depending on whether or not the parties involved are willing to cooperate and come to an amicable arrangement.
If terms of custody, visitation, and/or parenting time are agreed upon by parents, the custodial arrangement will likely be decided as part of the case. If not, temporary custody will be assigned until a custody hearing. The judge will also set an amount for child support payments based on the Michigan Child Support Formula, and may include additional payments for the costs of childbirth, blood tests (to establish paternity), and other expenses.
The stakes are high in any paternity case, and you want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. This is best accomplished by hiring a qualified paternity attorney Michigan to guide you through the process.