Establishing paternity rights can be critical to the health and well-being of a child and the entire family. The support — both financial and emotional — that children can receive from both parents will serve them in most aspects of their lives. From obtaining child support to establishing parenting time to enforcing visitation and custody, it’s essential that paternal rights are determined as soon as possible and that both parents work together for a bright future for their child.

If you have questions about your own family or would like help establishing paternity, contact Bowden Law, PLLC today to schedule an appointment. From my office in Mount Clemens, Michigan, I’m happy to serve clients throughout Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

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Why Paternity Is Important

Determining paternity is important to all members of a family and can help in a number of ways. The most important, of course, is for the well-being of the child. Children who have a relationship with both parents will have the financial support of two adults instead of one, will grow up seeing a positive example of two adults working together to co-parent their child, and will have vital information about any medical conditions that may run in the family.

When a child knows and has connections with both sides of their family, they may grow up with a stronger sense of identity and the feeling that they belong. Furthermore, it can open up resources for the child like partaking in one parent’s health or life insurance or taking advantage of Social Security or military benefits.

A mother may wish to establish paternity in the hopes of ​​obtaining child support from the father. If the father is not legally recognized as the parent, they are not obligated to provide financial support. However, once paternity is established, the mother can either ask for assistance or file a court order to start receiving child support.

A father may wish to seek paternity if he has been excluded from seeing his child or if the mother doesn’t believe he’s the true father. With a paternity determination, fathers can ensure they have the same child custody and child visitation rights as the mother. When a solid parenting plan is in place, the child will grow up in a consistent, predictable environment knowing that they’ll see each parent regularly.

Lastly, either parent may wish to de-establish paternity. Perhaps the father acknowledged paternity early on but later discovered he’s not in fact the true parent. Until he can legally prove he’s not the father, he’ll still be required to provide child support.

Establishing Paternity in Michigan

There are two ways to establish paternity, either voluntarily or involuntarily. If a couple is married at the time of conception or birth, paternity is automatically assumed. Even if the couple is not married, if they both agree on who the biological father is, it can be established voluntarily. This is often done in the hospital right after the birth where both parents sign an Affidavit of Parentage before a notary, or it can be done later in a child’s life but there may be fees. This can even be done if the father is legally married to someone else.

If one of the parents disputes the paternity of the child, it can also be established involuntarily with a court-issued “order of filiation.” Either parent can begin these court proceedings which often involve genetic testing.

When Disputes Occur

Unfortunately, disputes may arise about paternity from either the mother or the father. These are most common with issues of child support payments or a father’s parental rights. In these cases, both parents have the right to seek a court order to find out the truth by filing a “Petition to Establish Parentage.” This must be filed in the county where the mother or child lives.

The father will first be given the option to claim paternity on their own, but they can also turn to DNA testing for more conclusive results. In cases where the father refuses to accept paternity and the subsequent DNA test shows they are in fact the father, the court will often make them pay the costs of the test. Alternatively, a father may voluntarily take a DNA test to disprove his paternity for a child he knows is not his.

Paternity Determination Attorneys Serving Mount Clemens, Michigan

Bringing a child into the world is an incredibly beautiful and difficult thing to do. And, even if the two parents are no longer together, they still have important roles to play in their child’s life. If you’re in the Mount Clemens, Michigan, area and would like to speak to a family law attorney about your paternity concerns, call Bowden Law, PLLC today to set up a consultation.