The importance of establishing paternity in Michigan
Becoming a father is one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences in a man’s life, bringing with it a world of love and responsibility. In the state of Michigan, a married man is considered by law to be the father of his wife’s child and is granted related parental rights. However, unwed fathers are not granted such rights and if they should wish to leverage their parental position, formal steps must be taken to establish paternity.
Officially recognized paternity allows unwed fathers to enact parental rights and subsequently allows his children to claim benefits and support from each parent. Indeed, establishing paternity is a very important step in the lives of parents and their children.
What paternity means for a family
If a man is not legally recognized as his child’s father he has no accompanying legal rights to the child, including custody, parenting time, or the opportunity to be part of important decisions involving the child such as education plans, medical treatment, decisions around religion, and housing arrangements. Most importantly, it is great comfort for a child to know without a doubt who his or her father is and goes a long way in establishing a loving family.
Fortunately, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services has measures in place that entitle children to specific benefits from their parents, including those from social security insurance, health insurance, veteran’s benefits, and other occupation-based benefits. Keep in mind that without established paternity, a child has no right to claim these benefits.
How to establish paternity
Assuming there is no question of the identity of a child’s father in Michigan, some parents ensure this by completing what is called an affidavit of parentage form. In the Michigan courts system, this is the simplest means of establishing paternity and can be completed with a signature. The form may be signed at the hospital following childbirth, at a county registrar’s office or local DHS office.
In addition to establishing paternity through traditional affidavit means, unmarried fathers can also do so through a court order. Court orders are usually imposed when there is some form of dispute regarding a father’s identity in relation to his child. Either spouse may initiate court orders but before a paternity court order can be established, court hearings must be held to fully verify a father’s identity.
In nearly every instance, blood tests are ordered, followed by DNA testing. If tests confirm that a man is indeed the child’s father, the court will issue an order to that effect and may also issue orders regarding custody, visitation, and child support.
Benefits of legal counsel
The process of establishing paternity for unwed Michigan fathers is complex and time-consuming. Contested cases make this an especially involved task and it is strongly recommended for fathers seeking paternity to consult with experienced legal representatives in order to fully understand all of their rights and options, and to receive targeted guidance throughout the paternity process.
For more information on establishing paternity in Michigan, contact The Gucciardo Law Firm today at (248) 723-5190.
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