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Paternity overview for Michigan residents

Paternity issues can arise when a child is born to unwed parents. The question regarding the child's biological father may come up once the child is born. In some cases, the father voluntarily acknowledges that the child is his, thus not requiring a court hearing to establish paternity. However, not all cases are like that. According to paternity dispute lawyers, paternity must be established so the custodial parent can earn the right to seek child support from the biological father.

Here in Michigan, paternity can be established by signing an "Affidavit of Parentage." Both parents must sign the form to formalize the process. Parents can seek assistance from the Department of Human Services which can guide them throughout the process, which is free. Once the form is signed, the paternity of the child is established. Fathers need to understand that once they have acknowledged paternity, the court will then require support payments.

Another way to establish paternity is through a paternity lawsuit. Mothers who rely on public assistance may file a complaint to establish paternity. The DHS and the Office of Child Support can help indigent mothers file a complaint.

Fathers should also know that once paternity is established, they will be able to seek custody or visitation rights of the children. The child's name will be changed once paternity is established and will be based on his or her biological father's last name.

Readers who have concerns or questions regarding paternity disputes should first review their legal options before filing paternity lawsuits. They may also wish to negotiate with the other parent first to avoid litigation. Legal advice can also provide a sense of clarity for those people who are dealing with similar issues.

Source: courts.mi.gov, "Paternity," Accessed on Oct. 9, 2014

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