Not all children are born to married parents. Sometimes a child is born to parents who are in a committed relationship with one another but are not married. Other times the child’s parents ended their relationship before the child’s birth and are no longer together. This can cause issues with regards to child support and visitation rights. Specifically, before an unmarried mother can pursue child support from the child’s other parent or the child’s other parent can pursue visitation rights, paternity must be established.
Why is establishing paternity so crucial to a child’s well-being?
Establishing paternity is the first step towards obtaining child support for the care of the child. It costs money to raise a child, and children deserve to have the financial support of both parents. Once paternity is established, the child’s mother can pursue child support from the child’s father.
In addition, the child’s father may want to have visitation time with the child even though he and the child’s mother are no longer in a relationship with one another. A father can only pursue these rights after paternity has been established. Absent instances of neglect or abuse, children generally benefit from have a relationship with both parents.
Also, when a child knows the identity of both parents, it gives them a sense of identity and belonging. Establishing paternity also gives a child the benefit of being on their parent’s health and life insurance and it gives a child inheritance rights. Establishing paternity is also helpful if a child has health problems and needs to know both parents’ medical histories.
How can paternity be established in Michigan?
If a child’s parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, there are two options for establishing paternity. Unmarried parents can voluntarily establish paternity by filling out a form at the hospital that states they agree the man is the child’s biological father for all legal purposes. If there is a paternity dispute, the child’s mother and the purported father can go to court to sort out the matter. Generally, the court will order a DNA test to determine if the purported father is the child’s biological father.
Establishing paternity is necessary for unmarried mothers who want to pursue child support and unmarried fathers who want to pursue visitation. But it is the child who benefits the most from establishing paternity, as it allows the child to have the financial support and relationships necessary to grow and thrive.