When parents are unmarried or about to divorce, they may have questions about their legal obligations in regard to child support and their legal rights in regard to child custody. If you have questions about your rights as an unmarried mother or father, contact Schwartz Law Firm by phone or e-mail today.
Biological parents have a statutory duty to support their children. If they do not, a court will compel them to do so. The amount of support is dictated by the Michigan Child Support Formula and considers the following:
- Income of each parent
- Number of children
- Number of overnights
- Tax status of each party
- The amount parents pay for child's health insurance
- Cost of child care
- Whether either party has other children to support
Courts are required, by law, to order child support according to the formula, unless the court states specific reasons for deviating from the formula. Pursuant to the formula, the "custodial" parent (the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time) is presumed to contribute directly to the support of the child. Thus, the noncustodial parent will be required to pay money as his or her "contribution" to the child's care and maintenance. The requirement to pay support is only triggered when the biological parents are separated, regardless of marital status. Thus, an unmarried parent has the same right to file for child support if the other parent leaves the home as a married parent does when the same event occurs.
Child custody rights are somewhat different for unmarried parents. Until a biological father obtains an order from a court as to his custody rights, primary custody is presumed to be with the mother. This is true whether a paternity action is filed, or the parties execute an Affidavit of Parentage at the child's birth. Unless custody is litigated in the paternity action, the mother retains custody of the minor child, and the father has no visitation (or custody) rights until he files the appropriate pleadings with the court to obtain an order governing his rights.
If an Affidavit of Parentage has been executed, paternity is established, and a paternity complaint cannot be filed. If the child is conceived or born to a married woman, a biological father who is not the woman's husband will not have standing to request custodial rights to the child. The one exception to this rule is if a court had made a PRIOR determination that the child born or conceived during the marriage is not the issue of that marriage.
For a father to protect his right to have a relationship with his child (assuming he has not impregnated another man's wife), it is imperative that he file the appropriate pleadings with the court to establish those rights. Without a court order, law enforcement will not enforce visitation with the child, if the mother refuses the father access.
Contact a Farmington Hills Parental Rights Lawyer
For more information, contact an Oakland County unmarried parents' rights lawyer for a free initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney.