Richland Hills MI Paternity Lawyer
Establishing paternity in a divorce or child support case can be beneficial to all parties involved. If you’re a father, you may want to ensure that you have custodial rights to your child. If you’re a mother, you may want to ensure that the court imposes upon the father a legal obligation to provide financial support for your child. In either case, a Rochester Hills Mi paternity lawyer at Sumner & Associates, P.C. can help.
Establishing Paternity “Voluntarily” When Parents Are Unmarried
If a married woman gives birth to a child, the law presumes that the husband is the father. For unmarried parents, however, they must make a declaration after the birth of their child. If they are both in agreement that the father is in fact the biological father, they can establish paternity voluntarily by signing an Affidavit of Parentage. When a father signs this document, he is affirming that he has not only the legal rights of a father, but the responsibilities as well. It is a legally binding document that must be considered carefully before signing.
Once a father signs the Affidavit of Parentage, he is giving up his right to have a genetic test determine paternity, have a court decide the matter, or have court-appointed legal counsel represent them. Upon voluntarily establishing paternity, the court will issue a family support order that establishes the father’s financial obligation to the child until they turn 18.
Establishing Paternity “Involuntarily” If One Party Disputes the Issue
In some cases, the mother will refuse to sign the Affidavit of Parentage in order to prevent the father from establishing parental rights over the child. The trade-off, of course, is that the mother won’t have legal access to child support.
On the other hand, many fathers do want to establish paternity and feel unfairly cut out of their child’s life when the mother makes this decision. In that case, with the help of a paternity attorney, the father can file a “Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity” through a court action.
The court will oversee a process of genetic testing that is painless and simple. A swab from the inside of the father’s cheek is used to test against the child’s DNA. If the court determines that the father is indeed the biological father, it will issue an order of paternity that asserts him the “legal” father.
How Does Establishing Paternity Benefit the Father?
In order to have visiting time with a child, a father must first establish paternity. The extent of the custody arrangement can also be discussed once paternity is established.
Once the court establishes paternity, the child’s mother is required to make the child available for visitation. The court always operates under the assumption that it’s in the best interests of the child to have two parents who both have an active role in the child’s life.
The first part of the process is establishing a temporary order or agreement that allows visitation. When appropriate, the father may want to solidify their custody arrangement to ensure they can be more involved in the child’s life.
How Does Establishing Paternity Benefit the Mother?
The obvious advantage to mother is imposing a legal obligation on the father to provide child support. However, if the mother is on public assistance, the Michigan courts may require the mother make some effort to establish paternity or identify individuals who are likely to be the father of her child. The courts will then require these men to provide DNA samples. And once paternity is established, they will be required to make child support payments.
In some cases, the mother may not necessarily want the father to be in the child’s life. The court can decide whether or not the father should have access to the child. Regardless, the father is required to financially support the child.
Paternity and Adoption
What happens if an expectant mother wants to give her child up for adoption? A man may elect to establish paternity in order to take over the sole caregiver rights of the child before they are placed in an agency.
Once paternity has been established, the father can stop the process of giving the child away for adoption, but he must also prove to the court that he is fit to be a parent to the child. The father would need to show that he made some effort to support the mother and that he has made the necessary arrangements to care for the child on his own.
Once paternity is established, the court must terminate the father’s parental rights before the adoption can happen. If the mother of your child is threatening to give the baby away for adoption, a Michigan paternity lawyer can stop the process from moving forward.
Talk to a Richland Hills MI Paternity Lawyer Today
Whether you’re a father who wants to establish his legal rights or a mother who wants to ensure her child is cared for, we can help. Contact a Richland Hills paternity lawyer at Sumner & Associates today.