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What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity for a Child?

Posted on in Family Law

Farmington Hills family law attorney paternity

All children have two biological parents, but these individuals will not always be considered the child’s legal parents. If a mother is unmarried when her child is born, she and the child’s other parent will need to take steps to establish paternity in Michigan. Doing so can not only provide a child with a sense of identity and belonging, but it can also provide the child and the parents with a number of other legal benefits.

How Is Paternity Established in Michigan?

If a mother is married when her child is born, her spouse will be the legal parent of the child. If the mother got divorced within 10 months before her child was born, her ex-spouse will be the child’s legal parent. Typically, in situations where the mother is unmarried, the child’s father will not be recognized as a legal parent until paternity is established.

Paternity can be voluntarily established if the parents sign an Affidavit of Parentage. This form can be signed at a hospital after the child’s birth, or parents can complete and file an affidavit at any time during the child’s life. However, before signing the affidavit, parents should be sure of the identity of the child’s biological father. By signing the form, they will be giving up their right to receive DNA testing or have a trial to determine whether a man is the child’s biological father. Signing the affidavit will initially give full custody of the child to the mother, although both parents will have the right to pursue a court order for custody or parenting time.

If either parent does not wish to sign an Affidavit of Parentage, or if there is any doubt about the identity of the child’s biological father, a parent may file a paternity case in their local family court. This type of case may also be necessary if the mother is married to someone other than the child’s biological father since her spouse will be the child’s legal parent until a judge orders otherwise. Genetic testing will usually be ordered to verify the identity of the biological father.

Why Establishing Paternity Is Important

When paternity is legally established, both of the parents will have the right to petition for child custody or parenting time. The child will be able to receive child support, which will ensure that the parents will both share in the costs of raising the child. Children can also receive a variety of other benefits from their legal parents, including the right to receive an inheritance, coverage through health insurance and life insurance policies, and pension benefits. Children can also receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits through a parent, which can provide them with financial support if their parent becomes disabled or dies before the child reaches adulthood. Children will also have access to parents’ family medical history, which can provide helpful information to doctors about the types of medical treatment a child should receive.

Contact Our Oakland County Paternity Lawyers

If you are an unmarried parent, you may want to establish paternity for your child to protect your parental rights and ensure that your child can receive financial support and other benefits. At Elkouri Heath, PLC, we can help you complete the process of establishing paternity, and we will work with you to protect your child’s best interests at all times. Contact our Novi, MI family law attorneys at 248-344-9700 to set up a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/PAT_ACK_Guide_June_2011_356774_7.pdf

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-act-305-of-1996.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/DHS-PUB-0780_211984_7.pdf

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