Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC
Begin Taking Charge Of Your Situation.
Call 517-219-9301

What rights do I have as an unmarried father?

Many couples choose, for whatever reasons, not to marry. Of course, that is their right, and it is up to them as consenting adults to determine the best course of action for their relationship. When an unmarried couple has children, though, the father may find himself getting the short end of the proverbial stick from a legal perspective.

The legal distinction between married and unmarried parents

When a couple is married at the time a child is born, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. His name will be added to the child's birth certificate unless the couple specifically requests otherwise, and he will be imbued with the rights enjoyed by a parent under the law. 

This includes:

  • The right to seek custody of the child or visitation time in the event of a split
  • The right and responsibility to raise the provide for the child's needs
  • The right to make decisions on behalf of the child in regards to legal, medical, financial, religious and educational matters
  • The right to seek child support payments from a non-custodial parent or to apply for government assistance to help support the child

If the mother and father are unmarried when the child is born, however, the father doesn't automatically receive any of these rights, and won't until such a time when paternity is established.

Establishing paternity - the first step

As an unmarried father, the first step you can take toward securing your parental rights is to establish that you are indeed the father of the child. You and the child's mother can do this voluntarily, by having your name added to the child's birth certificate after the child is born or by later signing an Affidavit of Parentage and submitting it to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (where it will be catalogued in the Central Paternity Registry in the Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics).

If the mother of your child refuses to acknowledge your paternity voluntarily, or she is unsure if you are in fact the father, either of you may request genetic testing in order to establish paternity.

Once paternity has been established, you will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent. You will be able to bring an action for physical or legal child custody or visitation/parenting time, and you will be subject to paying or receiving child support depending on the final custody arrangement. For more information about the rights of unmarried fathers in Michigan, seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney in your area.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • 2016 Client Satisfaction Award
  • LC | Lead Counsel Rated
  • 10 Best 2015 Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Family Law Attorneys TM
  • Avvo Top Contributor 2015 | Divorce
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel | NADC | Nation's Top One Percent
Email Us For A Response

How Can We Help You

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

This site uses Google's Invisible reCAPTCHA, which is subject to Google's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Office Location:

Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC
101 East Grand River Avenue
Fowlerville, MI 48836

Toll Free: 888-288-5LAW
Phone: 517-219-9301
Fax: 517-223-8233
Fowlerville Law Office Map