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3 Factors Unmarried Parents Should Know About Michigan Paternity Laws

Posted on in Divorce

Michigan paternity laws, parenting time, Oakland County family law attorney, unmarried parents, parenting agreementsNearly 40 percent of all Michigan babies are born to unmarried parents (figures for 2014–2016). Yet, despite how common it is, the birth of a child to unmarried parents creates some complex legal issues, and misconceptions abound.

For example, a single mother might assume she can establish legal paternity without the father’s agreement, just by filling in a father’s name on the birth certificate. Or, an unmarried father might assume that informally paying some of the child’s expenses is enough to “earn” him the legal rights of a father, such as the right to spend time with the child and share in parenting decisions. However, under Michigan law, both assumptions are incorrect.

Consider three important factors that all unmarried mothers and fathers should know about the Michigan laws that govern paternity, child support, and parenting time.

1. Why it is Important to Establish Legal Paternity for Your Child

Establishing legal paternity gives your child the same rights and benefits as a child born to married parents, including but not limited to:

  • Financial support, with each parent paying an equitable share;
  • Coverage under either parent’s health insurance plan;
  • Inheritance rights;
  • Social Security benefits if a parent dies or becomes disabled before the child reaches majority;
  • Time with both parents, and their involvement in parenting decisions;
  • Relationships with grandparents, cousins, etc. on both sides; and
  • Access to the medical history of both parents.

2. How to Establish Legal Paternity in Michigan When Parents Are Not Married

In the case of unmarried parents, a father’s name cannot go on a child’s birth certificate until paternity has been legally established. Michigan state law provides two ways for unmarried parents to establish legal paternity:

  • Voluntary agreement: The unmarried parents both sign a form called the Affidavit of Parentage, available from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This is best done at the hospital right after the child’s birth, but it can also be done later.

  • Go to court: If one parent refuses to sign a voluntary agreement, either parent can seek to establish paternity by filing a court case in the family division of the local circuit court, generally in the county where the mother lives. This process involves court hearings and DNA testing, with the outcome being a legal Order of Filiation, also known as a paternity order.

3. How to Create Legally Binding Child Support and Parenting Time Agreements in Michigan

Unmarried parents may draft their own agreements regarding financial support, custody, and parenting time, but such agreements are not legally binding until approved by the court system. The court’s involvement ensures compliance with all state laws and considers the interests of both parents and children.

Even for unmarried parents who are living together and on good terms, negotiating such agreements can be both time consuming and emotionally draining. Attorneys trained in collaborative law and mediation as well as local court procedures can be most helpful in these situations.

Trusted Paternity and Family Law Attorneys in Southeast Michigan

There is more than one way to effectively resolve paternity law matters. An experienced Farmington Hills family law attorney will explain your options and protect your interests throughout the process. Our attorneys regularly work with both fathers and mothers to establish legal parenting agreements that meet the needs of both parents and children. Call Elkouri Health, PLC at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled paternity law attorney at our Novi, Michigan office.





Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
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