Absent issues such as abuse, children in Michigan deserve to have the support of both parents, as well as a meaningful relationship with both parents. However, if a child’s parents were never married, and the child’s mother wishes to seek child support from the child’s father or the child’s father wants to pursue visitation time with his child, paternity will need to be established.

Voluntary establishment of paternity

If unmarried parents agree as to who the child’s father is, they can voluntarily sign an Affidavit of Parentage, establishing paternity. There are a variety of places they can sign such an affidavit. They can sign it at the hospital when the child is born. They can go to their local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services office for an Affidavit. An affidavit can also be signed at their local county Registrar’s Office. Finally, an Affidavit of Parentage can be completed online.

Paternity through the courts

Unmarried parents in Michigan who do not voluntarily agree who the child’s father is can turn to the courts for the establishment of paternity. Generally, courts will order a DNA test to determine paternity.

Children benefit when paternity is established

Ultimately, the establishment of paternity is for the benefit of the child. When a child’s father is legally identified, then that child can have the financial support of both parents as well as the chance to have a relationship with each parent. Knowing the identity of their father also gives a child information about their family and medical history, and it gives them inheritance rights. Those in the Grand Rapids area who have questions about paternity may want to seek professional advice.