The legal parent-child relationship between mother and child generally arises when the mother gives birth to the child. Typically, one’s status as “birth mother” is either true or false at the time the child is born. However, the parent-child relationship between father and child is not as clear-cut. As a result, the law recognizes different ways for the parent-child relationship to arise between father and child.

How to Establish Paternity in Michigan

Determining the basis for the legal parent-child relationship between father and child is the focus of paternity proceedings. Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) § 552.29 provides that “the legitimacy of all children begotten before the commencement of any action under this act shall be presumed until the contrary be shown.” This establishes a legal presumption that the man to whom the child’s birth mother was married when the child was born is the child’s father. However, there are other ways of determining paternity in Michigan.

Under Michigan law, paternity may be established according to the provisions of the following laws:

  • The Michigan Paternity Act
  • The Acknowledgement of Parentage Act
  • The Genetic Parentage Act
  • The Summary Support and Paternity Act

The Michigan Paternity Act

The Michigan Paternity Act establishes a procedure for determining paternity in cases where the alleged father does not acknowledge the parent-child relationship with a child. As a result, legal action is required to determine the basis of the parent-child relationship.

Under the Michigan Paternity Act, the following persons can file a paternity action:

  • A mother
  • The mother of a child born out of wedlock
  • The Department of Health and Human Services

Legal action under the Michigan Paternity Act involves filing a paternity complaint naming the person whom the plaintiff believes is the father of her child and must allege whether the child was conceived under certain conditions.

The Acknowledgement of Parentage Act

For situations where the parties agree on the issue of paternity, the Acknowledgement of Parentage Act allows the parties to establish paternity through written acknowledgment. Both the mother and father sign an acknowledgment of parentage and file it with the state registrar. However, for a father seeking rights to custody and parenting time this is not the end of the process. The Affidavit of Parentage specifically provides that the mother has custody of the child until a Court rules otherwise. Therefore, a father who has signed the Affidavit of Parentage must follow that up with a Complaint for Custody in order to obtain enforceable rights to custody and parenting time of that child. The only thing the Affidavit of Parentage accomplishes is that a DNA test will not be necessary in that custody action.

The Genetic Parentage Act

Parentage can also be established through the use of genetic testing under the Genetic Parentage Act. Accordingly, an accredited laboratory will test a genetic sample from the alleged father, and if the results indicate a 99% or higher likelihood of paternity, they qualify as the child’s father. The procedure is voluntary and is available to unmarried couples. Establishing paternity through genetic testing is also available for couples who request the procedure under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act if the question of paternity is unsettled and no adoption proceedings have been filed.

The Summary Support and Paternity Act

A Title IV-D Agency may file a paternity action with the court under the Summary Support and Paternity Act. This allows the agency to determine the existence of a parent-child relationship to find a source of financial support for children who are supported by public assistance. After paternity is established, the court will issue a support order to the father and may issue a custody and parenting time order.

For More Information, Call the American Divorce Association for Men

Are you looking for legal advice concerning an issue involving paternity and your parental rights and responsibilities as a father in Michigan? If so, you should direct your inquiries to the American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM). Our legal team is committed to advocating for your legal interests as a father in proceedings ranging from paternity actions to matters concerning custody and parenting time.

To schedule an initial consultation, call ADAM at or contact our office online today.