Legally identifying parentage is crucial, whether you are a mother, a presumed father or an alleged father.

Below, we explain a few of the reasons why it can be important to establish paternity. We also provide some basic information on the paternity laws and process here in Michigan.

Reasons to establish paternity

Establishing paternity legally identifies a party as a child’s father. Once this happens, the following things can occur.

  • The father can pursue custody of the child.
  • The mother can request child support from the father.
  • A wrongfully accused man can avoid the financial and emotional ramifications of believing he is the father of a child who is not biologically his.
  • A child can have a better understanding of his or her biological background.
  • Parents and doctors can make medical decisions for the child based on a more complete picture of his or her genetic and medical history.

How to establish paternity in Michigan

If a mother is married when she has a baby, her husband is presumed to be the father.

If a mother is not married but there are no doubts or concerns about who a child’s father is, parties can complete an Affidavit of Parentage form. Parents often do this at the hospital after a baby is born, though it can happen at a later time as well.

If the father’s identify is unknown or if someone contests paternity, parties can file a paternity case with the courts who may order blood tests. If the tests show a man is not the father, the courts can dismiss the claim. If the test confirms a man is the father, the courts enter a paternity order. A judge will also order child support and other costs; custody agreements can also be part of this order.

Navigating the legal process

This can all sound overwhelming, particularly if you also have a new baby and difficult relationships to balance. However, parties with paternity concerns have the option to work with an attorney to navigate the legal elements of these situations so that they can focus on their families.