How Can Paternity Impact Child Support Requirements in Michigan?
Children are legally entitled to child support from both parents, regardless of the parent’s marital status. Child support includes multiple facets, including:
- Monetary payments
- Health insurance coverage
- Daycare costs
- Clothing and school supplies
Establishing paternity can provide a child with all of the standard legal benefits that apply to the parent, such as veterans’ benefits, Social Security benefits, and inheritance rights.
Child support cannot be avoided by either parent through lack of visitation or other means. Since this obligation cannot legally be avoided, it is imperative that each child’s paternity is accurately established.
Biological vs. Legal Paternity
The state of Michigan differentiates between a legal father and a biological father. A biological father is one whose sperm fertilized the mother’s egg to create the child. A legal father is a man who has raised and cared for the child. This is often the same person, but that is not true in every case.
In one landmark case, a paternity test determined that the child was conceived as the result of an affair the mother had while married. The husband assumed he was the father and raised the child as such.
After divorcing, the mother noticed that the child looked like her lover and had a paternity test done. That test verified that the ex-husband was not the child’s father, but the court upheld him as the legal father because he had cared for the child from birth.
Paternity in Marriage
When a child is born within a marriage, the state assumes the couple to be the mother and father. No tests are necessary unless they are requested by the couple; the married couple is simply officially listed as the mother and father of the child.
If that marriage is later dissolved, the mother and father are still equally responsible for the child they had together in the eyes of the law.
When a child is born to an unwed mother, paternity must be legally established. If the father is present and paternity is uncontested, the mother and father can sign a legal affidavit declaring the man to be the legal father of the child.
A paternity affidavit must be signed by the father. If he is not physically present, the mother cannot simply list a man’s name as the legal father without his consent. The father can sign an affidavit at a later date if he is not present at birth, however.
When a man questions his paternity, he can request genetic testing. The court can also order this test when creating a child support order.
Paternity testing involves a simple blood test that establishes the genetic bond of the child. Genetic markers in the blood test are over 99% accurate at establishing who the biological father of a child is.
Once paternity is legally established, the father is responsible for shared support of the child until adulthood. Establishing paternity gives the father legal rights as well. As the legal father of a child, a man can petition the court for visitation rights, partial or full custody, and application support.
Gucciardo Family Law specializes in providing personal attention to family court matters. Contact us for help in establishing paternity, exercising your rights, or getting the support your child deserves.
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