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The simplest step toward shared custody as an unmarried dad

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2022 | Child Custody

Unmarried fathers in Michigan have the same basic rights as married fathers and mothers do. The laws discussing parental rights and responsibilities do not specifically designate certain rights to parents based on their sex or their marital status.

However, marital status does play a role in your ability to assert your parental rights. Married fathers benefit from a presumption of paternity. In plain English, the hospital will automatically include them on the birth certificate because of their marital status. The same is not true for unmarried fathers.

You have to legally establish yourself as the father first before you can ask for parenting time and decision-making authority.

What does the process of establishing paternity involve if you have not already legally proven yourself the father of you?

You can cooperate with the mother

Your child and their mother will both benefit from you affirming your paternity. The mother of your children may recognize the benefits of legally establishing you as the father and might agree to fill out paperwork voluntarily. You can start creating a parenting plan once the state has updated the birth certificate.

Not all fathers benefit from the enthusiastic cooperation of the mother of their child. What can you do if she does not want to add you to the birth certificate?

You can ask the courts for assistance

From messy break-ups to embarrassment, there are many reasons why a woman may not want to admit who the father of her child really is. If she won’t acknowledge you, then you may need to ask the courts for help. The Michigan family courts have the authority to order genetic testing to validate someone’s relationship to a child.

Even if the mother is uncooperative, the family courts can require that she and the child undergo genetic tests to compare the results with your test. This process can affirm within a tiny margin of error whether or not you are the father of the child. Once you establish paternity with the state and add your name to your child’s birth certificate, you have the right to ask for shared custody or to seek a modification to any existing custody or visitation order.

Learning about and asserting your rights as a Michigan father will benefit you and your child.