What Are Some Facts You Must Know As an Unmarried Father in Michigan?

In Michigan, if you are unmarried and parent a child, then both the father and the child’s mother may face challenges as there are numerous statutes in the Michigan legislature regarding children’s rights.

Michigan does indeed grant legal custody rights and other considerations to a married couple, but these rights do not apply if you were never married to the  mother of the child. 

For example, the child’s mother is  automatically granted sole legal and sole physical custody to the child from birth; however, you (as the father) will usually not. As the father and unmarried, you must prove paternity before the Michigan court will allow you to establish a relationship with the child and the mother.

You must legally confirm your paternity as the child’s biological father to establish legal custody rights. You can then obtain court-ordered custody and parenting time rights when you do. Also, if you and the mother voluntarily agree on your paternity, you may be able to sign an “Affidavit of Parentage” when the child is born and be legally established as the father.

If your paternity as the father is contested or questioned, then the Michigan court will order biological testing to establish or deny your paternity firmly.

Legal paternity usually grants your child access to healthcare and other government and private benefits.

Additionally, when you establish your paternity, you, as the father, may then take steps to assume custody. As your child’s proven biological father, you can petition the court for both legal and physical custody rights.

If your child’s mother remarried, the court might initially assume that her new husband is the father. In this case, biological testing will help you prove the truth, which is commonly necessary.

Each case of this type differs in its details and specifics, but always remember; as an unmarried parent, you have rights. However, these cases can be legally complex, and the legal guidance, advice, and analysis of a Southfield or Sterling Heights professional father’s rights lawyer will be invaluable.

Is It Always Important To Legally Establish Paternity?

If you are married when your child is born, then legally, it will automatically be assumed that you are your child’s legal father, you will be what is known as the presumptive father. However, if you are unmarried, you (as the father) must go through a legal process for “establishing paternity.” In most cases, only by “establishing paternity” will you be able to have the rights due you as your child’s legal father.

You must note that legally in Michigan, you can only enforce your parental rights as the father-to-child support, custody, proper parenting time, etc., once you have established your valid paternity.

In Michigan, there are two ways to establish paternity.

One of these means is that both “biological” unmarried parents can sign an “Affidavit of Parentage.” This affidavit then legally acknowledges you as the child’s father, and is typically done a the child’s birth.

This affidavit is used if you are unmarried, but you and the mother agree and wish you to be legally recognized as the child’s father.

However, if you and the mother disagree that you are the father, or this fact is contested, you cannot use this form and cannot establish paternity.

You or the mother must initiate a paternity case in the Michigan court. The court will order genetic testing to prove the identity of the child’s biological father. If these test results confirm you to be the child’s father, the court will officially establish your paternity, and you can pursue legal and physical custody rights. 

Once again, this entire process can be legally “tricky,” and the advice, consultation, and guidance of a qualified, professional father’s rights lawyer are mandatory to navigate the process correctly.

How Is Child Custody Affected If I’m an Unmarried Father?

Most likely, the first thing your experienced fathers’ rights lawyer will explain is that, as an unmarried father, all the significant issues involving your child are based on you proving your legal paternity.

Once your paternity is legally established, the court will approve rational child custody and parenting time rights.  If you and your ex partner can agree, then it makes this easier. However, if you cannot agree on custody or parenting time, the court will get involved to resolve the dispute. 

Ultimately, the court must determine and mandate the custodial and noncustodial parent roles, custody, and visitation. Also, note that the courts always consider the child’s best interest.

These critical questions that affect you and your child’s future should always be discussed with your father’s rights law team before you present them to a judge. This will always make the process easier for you and your child.

As an Unmarried Father, Can I Get Child Support If I Have Custody?

It usually doesn’t matter to the court who has custody, as both “biological” parents must support their child. You may still pay child support if you establish paternity but don’t have custody.

As an unmarried biological father with custody, you also can get child support from your ex-partner. If this is not done, you can usually petition the court if your ex-partner doesn’t pay child support. 

Child support is another complex yet vital question that should always be discussed with your father’s rights lawyer before you bring it up to the Michigan court. Many aspects affect this calculation, depending on health insurance, income, parents’ education, childcare costs, etc.

I’m An Unmarried Father in Michigan and Need Help; What Should I Do?

You must note that no matter what you’re told, you have parental rights as an unmarried father in Michigan. However, there may be different “hoops” you must go through before your rights are fully and legally acknowledged.

Never try to navigate this legal process alone, as it’s too complex, and your child’s life, upbringing, and future may depend on it.

If you need to learn more about Michigan child custody (or any question) for unmarried fathers, get a case evaluation with a qualified, professional fathers’ rights lawyer as soon as possible.

In countless Michigan cases, the Southfield father’s rights lawyers at the ADAM American Divorce Association have successfully protected and upheld unmarried fathers’ rights. Call them today at (248) 356-2326 and immediately obtain the empathetic, professional help you and your child must have.