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Unmarried fathers have custody rights in Michigan

Unmarried fathers have custody rights in Michigan

Marriage should be a personal decision. When a pair finds out that they are expecting, but are not legally married at the time of conception of birth, many feel the need to join in matrimony in order to have equal rights and access to the child. This theory does have some understandable patterns of thought, but is actually not one hundred percent true. Many states in our nation do outline specific parental rights that are mentioned directly in relation to that of a jointly married couple. When the mother is married, in our state, there are indeed certain parental rights that stem from exclusively  marriage under Michigan law. It is important to remember though, that this is not the case for each and every piece of legislation. For example, a man who is married to a woman that gets pregnant during the marriage and eventually decides to then have a child is the presumptive father, being that he is the husband of the mother (even if that truth is not always the case, and alternative facts may be presented at a later date due to advances in technology and paternity testing that can occur before or after the birth of a baby). Being the presumed father does provide a sense of power and responsibility that one may not have initially if fatherhood was not immediately assumed due to a legal marriage to the mother of the child. In cases of assumed parenthood due to marriage, that scenario means that the father can choose to have his name on the birth certificate without having to take any additional special steps that a presumed father that was not married to the mother of the child may have to take. This process generally includes paternity testing, which before birth can be harmful to the unborn fetus, and after birth can take days or even weeks to process depending on the availability of appointment as laboratories. In the event that the couple divorces, he will still be able to seek legal custody, joint custody, and even sole custody,  of that child and will possibly have to pay child support, simply because he is the presumed father of the child due to marriage, even if it has not been genetically proven through a DNA sample to establish paternity.

With all of that being said, if you aren’t married to the mother of your child before the child is born, you might think that you have fewer rights, even if you know that you are the biological father. After all, your name may not be on the birth certificate. If you and the mother break up, the courts aren’t going to oversee that process, which means you don’t automatically get to ask for shared custody or physical custody in a court order. However, you do still have parental rights under the child custody act. Many do not realize that there are in fact child custody laws for unmarried parents that exist in order to protect the best interests of the child. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in filing an affidavit of parentage so that you can begin to build, and continue to maintain a relationship with your child.

Establish yourself as a father to get parenting time

Ideally, the mother of your child will agree to work with you and sign paperwork that will add your name to the birth certificate. If she acknowledges you as a father, that can speed up the process of getting shared custody.

If she doesn’t acknowledge you as the father, you may have to ask the Michigan family courts to assist you by ordering genetic testing. Once a genetic test confirms that you are the likely father, you can then ask for custody rights.

More parenting time reduces your other obligations

You have certain responsibilities as a parent in Michigan. Your child needs your presence and your financial support. The less time you spend with your children, the more support obligations you will likely have. Getting more parenting time can mean not only having a better relationship with your child but also reducing the financial strain that child support can sometimes cause.

If you want to assert your rights as a father in Michigan, the first step might involve talking with a family law attorney about your current situation and your goals as a parent.

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