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Establishing paternity in Michigan

The dynamics of Michigan families can be diverse. While some families might be more traditional and consist of a mother, a father and one or more children, others might have only one parent, a stepparent or a relative raising the children. No matter who takes on the role of a parent, the child's best interests are always the focus when it comes to who has custody and who provides child support.

In cases in which there is only a mother raising a child, the father of the child might not take on the parental role for various reasons. In some situations, this occurs when it has not been established that the man is in fact the father of the child. This is usually when a paternity dispute ensues and DNA testing is requested.

If a test does indicate that a man is the father, the mother could file a completed and notarized Affidavit of Parentage. If they are unable to file this form, the court could order paternity establishment. Either could provide legal proof of paternity.

When paternity is established, the mother of the child will most likely have to file additional paperwork. This usually includes documents regarding custody and child support. Depending on the situation, the mother might seek sole or primary custody even if the father decides to take on their role as a father. In these matters, the age of the child and the best interest of the child will designate the proper custody and visitation arrangement.

Numerous family law issues are often present in a paternity dispute. This is why it is important that both parents take note of possible issues they need to address if paternity is established. The focus should always remain on the child or children involved, ensuring their rights and interests are protected.

Source: Department of Human Services, "Paternity Establishment," accessed Sept. 9, 2014

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