Summer vacation is probably one of your child’s favorite times of the year. However, if you share custody of your child with their other parent, summer vacation might be the time of year you dread the most. Navigating parenting time schedules in the summer can be stressful and complicated. Here are a few things to consider when creating your parenting time schedule.

  1. Are you the parent with primary custody?

If you have primary physical custody of your child and their other parent has regular parenting time the other parent might get more time during the summer. In creating parenting time schedules, attorneys and judges try to strike a balance of overnights that are in the child’s best interests. This is done in several ways. For example, if your regular schedule has your child’s other parent having parenting time every other weekend, they might have them for a few days during the week in the summer, in addition to their every other weekend time. It is also common to see a parent who doesn’t have primary physical custody be awarded a full week of parenting time in the summer on a week on, week off basis. Alternatively, some parents flip the parenting time schedule in the summer so that the parent who normally has the children during the week has the children on the weekend during the summer.

  1. What activities is your child participating in over the summer?

Sleep-away camps and athletic camps are popular activities for children during the summer months. If you have a shared custody arrangement, the time your child spends at summer camp needs to be carefully planned with consideration to your parenting time agreement. Many court orders regarding parenting time include provisions that state that one parent may not plan or schedule activities during the other parent’s parenting time without reasonable notice and consent of that parent. Including such a provision in your own parenting time agreement will ensure that you do not have to change your parenting time plan for every summer activity your child is enrolled in.

  1. Vacations that involve long distance travel

Family law attorneys are regularly approached by parents who are concerned that their former spouse or partner wants to take their child out of state or even out of the country for a vacation during summer break. If there is no concern that the other parent is attempting to abscond with the child, there is no prohibition on taking a child on a long-distance vacation. The best way to prevent problems is to plan. Be sure to provide the other parent with a written itinerary of your travel plans.  In addition, it would not hurt to send with the other parent with a written letter from you that states that you have given the other parent permission to travel with the child.

If you are concerned about the other parent absconding with your child, be reassured that state law now requires the insertion in every judgment a provision that states that neither parent can remove the child from the United States and visit a county that is not party to the Hague Convention. You can find a list of the participating or non-participating countries online or ask your attorney for a list.

  1. Vacation itineraries and keeping in touch

Allowing your child to go on a vacation with their other parent understandably creates anxiety. If you have an amicable relationship with the other parent, it may be easy for you to ask them for an itinerary and a way to contact your child, or at least for your child to contact you. If your relationship is not amicable, the other parent may be hesitant to provide you with an itinerary for fear that you will intrude on their vacation time. Remember that almost every court requires that a child have free access to contact both parents at any time. At a minimum, the other parent should provide you with a way to contact your child while they are on vacation. It is important that you to not abuse this information or use it as a tool to harass the other parent or interfere with their vacation. A good rule of thumb is to keep contact limited to a brief nightly phone call to hear about their day and say goodnight.

  1. What about holidays that fall during the summer?

Generally, holiday schedules take precedence over the regular parenting time schedule. Remember this when planning your summer parenting time schedule and vacations as neither should infringe on holiday parenting time. Holidays that are frequently included in summer parenting time schedules include Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. If birthdays of either parent fall during summer vacations and you want to spend time with your children, be sure to include parent’s birthdays in the holiday schedule in the judgment.

  1. How does child support fit into all this?

When your child support is first determined, the number of overnights that each parent will exercise will include the holiday and summer overnights. This has eliminated the need to ask for an abatement of child support when you have the child more than six overnights if you are not the primary custodial parent.

There are no set rules about summer parenting time in Michigan. This gives parents the opportunity to make a summer parenting time schedule that serves the best interests of their child. An experienced family law attorney will have the experience and ingenuity to help you negotiate the precise schedule that works for your individual family’s needs.

If you need help creating or enforcing a summer parenting time schedule, Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC can help. Our experienced attorneys are here to provide case-specific advice to you, and are here to talk whenever you are ready. Give us a call today at (248) 676-8976!

Separation, divorce, and annulment all seek to end a marriage in some way. Yet, each is uniquely different from the others in what they accomplish, how they are obtained, and their effects. Here’s what you need to know.

Separation: To separate means to move apart, but not necessarily to officially end things. Separation in Michigan can be a viable alternative to divorce if the parties are not willing to or interested in divorcing. There is a legal action called “separation maintenance” in which the couple divides up property, debts, establish child custody, and support, but remain married. This is an attractive option for some couples for religious reasons or possibly tax advantages.

The fact that the couple remains married can have downsides, however. For example, if one spouse takes on debt, the other spouse may still be responsible as the parties are still considered married. A separation using the separation maintenance action may be considered a “life event” in the eyes of life insurance and health insurance companies such that the non-policyholder spouse may be cut out of the policy. Thus, if a spouse receives health insurance through the employer of the other spouse, they may be dropped from coverage due to the separation. One of the stranger consequences is that any children born after the separation but while the parties are still married will be considered to be the children of the two parents, even if there is another father.

Annulment: An annulment is an action to essentially turn back time and make it as if the marriage never happened in the first place. Time travel is impossible, and the law is pretty lousy at erasing things, too, which explains why annulments are actually fairly difficult to get. Annulment in Michigan is usually only granted if there was something unfair or illegal about the marriage in the first place.

Grounds for annulment include the incompetence of a party to consent, one partner was still married to someone else at the time of the subsequent marriage, the spouses are close relatives, one spouse was too young to consent, or one spouse lied or otherwise fraudulently induced the other spouse into marriage. Annulments are absolutely not available if there are children from the marriage or property has been accumulated.

Annulments can make certain legal issues more difficult to untangle such as division of property or spousal support. If the marriage is treated as if it never happened, then it is a viable question as to whether a spouse would be entitled to support as they would in a divorce situation.

Divorce: The most familiar and popular method of ending a marriage is still divorce. The divorce process will determine adequate division of property, support, child custody, parenting, division of debt, and other issues with the added bonus that when it is concluded, both parties are free to marry again.

If you are facing a divorce, separation, or even annulment, it is incredibly empowering to have an experienced and compassionate attorney by your side through the process. Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC can help. Our experienced  Michigan family law attorneys are here to provide case-specific advice to you, and are here to talk whenever you’re ready. Give us a call today at (248) 676-8976!

During the divorce process, we tend to focus more on court dates, housing changes, and custody arrangements, seemingly losing ourselves to the onslaught of monotonous paperwork and meetings. But once the dust has settled and court hearings are a thing of the past, we tend to realize how raw our emotions still are.

Learning how to love yourself doesn’t come naturally to everyone, though. Sometimes we’ve put so much emotional energy into a partner that we don’t know how to exert that same energy into our own self-care.

Here are 4 tips on how to shower yourself with the love you deserve:

1. Identify Something You Truly Enjoy, Then Do That Thing!

Most people have one or two things that they always wished they had time for. Whether it’s writing, taking a painting class, or even taking a course—do it! Part of the beauty that accompanies having more time on your hands is being able to do the things you never had time to do before. Besides, not much says “I love me” more than indulging in something you’ve always wanted to.

2. Start a Gratitude Journal

Sure, it sounds a tad cheesy, but starting your day writing down the things you are thankful for can do wonders for your mental state throughout the day. And it doesn’t always have to be entries like “I’m thankful for my job or my car.”  You can always remind yourself of how many of the little things you have to be grateful for too; i.e., your children getting so excited to see you after work that they spilled their juice, or the fact that you pre-planned your meals this week so you have more time to relax in the evenings.

Regular journaling can have fantastic affects on your overall attitude about yourself, your life, and all that it has to offer you every day.


Nope this isn’t a joke. As a matter of fact, this might be the most important act of self-love you can bestow upon yourself. While it’s true divorce often brings about more free time, it can also bring more stress as you learn to juggle life sans a partner. The reality of shuffling the kids to practice on your own, or remembering whose day it is to pick them up, or just simple tasks (like grocery shopping when your former spouse used to do it) can be overwhelming.

In the midst of the chaos, learn to relax. Accept the fact that sometimes you’ll go to bed with dishes in the sink, laundry will go undone, and take-out food is ok. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up or stress yourself out trying to do it all. You are human! Put your need to rest or play with your children ahead of the things that can be done later, and don’t stress about it!

4. Do Something Physical Every Day

This is perhaps the most difficult item on the list, but VERY important. Part of truly loving yourself is to take care of yourself: emotionally, mentally, and physically. Regular exercise not only has incredible benefits to your physique, but it also is one of the most recommended outlets for depression and anxiety. Just 30 min of physical activity a day can increase serotonin levels—making you happier and less prone to stress, can help you sleep better, improve your skin, and add years to your life. If you aren’t inclined to hit the gym just yet, spend 30 minutes doing some guided yoga, walking the dogs, or jumping around with your kids. You’ll quickly notice positive benefits, and establish an exercise routine you actually look forward to.

Of course these are just some of the ways that you can improve on loving and caring for you. Eating well, meditation, travel, and pampering yourself from time to time are also great ways to show you that you care! In addition to establishing a healthy outlook for yourself, the people around you will benefit from the shift in your mindset too.

Family changes are never easy, but they can be manageable. If you need guidance and direction with your divorce, child custody, or any other potential family law matters, Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC can help. Our experienced  Michigan family law  attorneys are here to provide case-specific advice to you, and are here to talk whenever you’re ready. Give us a call today at (248) 676-8976!

~Originally posted February 2018~

Even if you are not into annual resolutions, the new year is a great time to reorient yourself after a divorce. Not only can the new year bring new people and experiences into your life, it can help to provide some closure on what you have left behind. Here are 6 ways to use this time wisely and set yourself on the path for your best year yet.

1) Perspective! This does not have to be your physical perspective, although, a nice beach or mountain view does not hurt. Here, it’s important to start reconsidering perspectives you may have had before and during the divorce. For example, instead of seeing it as closing the door on one chapter of your life, view it more as opening a new door to a chapter that is full of possibilities and opportunities waiting for you. And, as an added bonus, you get to use your hard-earned wisdom from your previous marriage and divorce to truly make the most of this new lease.

2) Do not allow the divorce to define you. We all have many different characteristics and life experiences that shape us into who we are as individuals. Allowing any one of those characteristics or life experiences to define all of you necessarily gives short shrift to all of the other wonderful things about you. So, if you are compelled to introduce yourself as “recently divorced,” remember that this one event does not define you. Let it be a part of it, but don’t let it be the whole.

3) Embrace the growth mindset. Instead of deciding that you are broken or stuck, employ the growth mindset way of thinking: use your divorce as an opportunity to learn about yourself, attempt new things, and be okay with things not working out. Most of all, be kind to yourself in this process and see yourself always as a learner about yourself and what you need to be happy.

4) Get your finances in order. If you have not done so already, now is an excellent time to start getting your finances in order, including learning how to manage your finances, planning for retirement, college funds, and other expenditures. Divorce can be particularly expensive for women in this regard if they have not been working or have their own separate retirement funds. The best time is now to start planting these trees so that when you do get ready to retire or make a major financial decision, you can do so with confidence.

5) Take care of yourself. It sounds slightly cliche, but it is also true. The time after a divorce is perhaps the most important time of all to take care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking plenty of water (beer, liquor, and wine do not count), and exercising. It will be very tempting to use a divorce as an excuse to eat poorly and give up exercise, which is why it is all the more important to actively and purposely be healthy. Your future self will thank you.

6) Remember that you have survived 100 percent of your bad days: They may have been tough and ugly days, but you survived them. Based on this track record, you are winning. 

Divorce can be a transforming experience, something which the attorneys at Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC understand and embrace. Our firm will use our experience from helping many others with their Michigan divorces to help you every step of the way with compassion, empathy, and professionalism. Contact us  today to get started.  

~Originally posted January 2018~


We’ve all heard of prenuptial agreements – agreements signed between two parties before they get married – but postnuptial agreements are a rare breed. They do exist, however, and are recognized in Michigan. They are essentially an agreement signed after the parties wed and are designed to protect property of an individual in the event of death, divorce, or separation.

The validity of postnuptial agreements in Michigan is a relatively new development as they have tended to be viewed by the courts as being against public policy. The reasoning was that a postnuptial agreement could act as an enforceable contract that encourages or otherwise moves the couple towards divorce or separation rather than staying together, which is the purpose of matrimony. There was also the fear that postnuptial agreements would benefit one party and be a substantial detriment to the other party.

A postnuptial agreement is valid and enforceable, however, when it seeks to further the marriage in some way, for example by requiring the parties to seek marital counseling before pursuing divorce or to take other steps that are designed to preserve, rather than break up, the marriage. It is also important that the agreement does not contemplate providing one party an advantage over the other in the event the couple should decide to split.

Postnuptial agreements are useful not just for binding two parties to more intensive measures to save the marriage. They can also be very helpful in protecting property of one party in the event of divorce without actually advocating or pushing for an actual divorce. They can also be useful for establishing alimony protection, again without encouraging a divorce. Essentially, these kinds of postnuptial agreements can act as late prenuptial agreements, which are not designed to end a marriage, but rather ensure the position of the parties relative to each other in the event of dissolution or death.

The emphasis in any postnuptial agreement must be that it is drafted and executed for the purpose of preserving the harmony of the marriage, and not for the inevitable dissolution of the union. It must also be inherently fair to both parties and not obviously lopsided in favor of one spouse over another. Part of this fairness must be that both parties enter into the agreement with full knowledge of the agreement and its ramifications, and ideally each have their own legal counsel to advise them as to the agreement’s effects on them individually.

Postnuptial agreements where one party coerces the other to sign by misrepresenting the contents of the agreement or otherwise fraudulently obtains their consent will be declared invalid. Similarly, postnuptial agreements that are created before circumstances change dramatically may not be enforced simply because the enforcement of the agreement under the new circumstances would be unfair to a party. For example, if one party wins the lottery and the postnuptial agreement states that any lottery winnings would belong solely to the party who won, the other party would be at a great disadvantage under the agreement. 

If you have questions about postnuptial agreements or any family law matter, contact the attorneys at Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC. They have the knowledge, understanding, and experience to help walk you through these important decisions.

~Originally posted in December 2017~

Not only is it possible that at some point a divorce judgment may be modified, it is fairly likely. Parents may need to move for job changes, child support amounts may need to be amended depending upon the needs of the child or the circumstances of the parent, and parenting plans may need tweaking. All of these changes and others are handled through a request filed with the court to modify the current judgment. Modifications can be filed for child support, child custody, parenting time, and spousal support.

What is it exactly?

To understand post-judgment modifications, it is important to know what your judgment actually sets forth to start. For example, your parenting plan may be extremely specific as to times and dates of custody and scheduling. On the other hand, the plan could merely state that the parties will share reasonable and regular parenting time. In the former case, a modification of the judgment parenting plan would likely be required even for minor changes to the parenting plan. In the latter, modification may not be required at all if the changes still fit within the reasonable and regular parenting time schedule.

When can you make a modification?

If a modification does need to be made, a motion to modify must be made with the requisite initial showing of the moving party that there is a good reason for the change. In child support modification cases, there must be a “substantial change of circumstances” to justify the change. Changes that would qualify as substantial include a parent losing a job, a parent becoming employed or getting a raise, the cost of raising the child has increased, or a change in custody arrangements. Note that Michigan prohibits retroactive changes in child support, so the sooner after the change in circumstances you file a modification request, the better.

In cases where spousal

 support has been awarded, it is possible to modify the award where circumstances have changed. However, if the parties agreed in the original decree that the spousal support judgment would be non-modifiable, the judgment cannot be modified, even in situations where there has been a dramatic change in circumstances. Where the parties have not agreed that the judgment is not modifiable, then petitions can be made to modify the spousal support if there has been a change of circumstances. Qualifying changes include an increase or decrease in the income of the payor or illness of the recipient spouse. The ex-spouse seeking the change bears the burden of proof to show that the change is warranted, but can only be entitled to retroactive modification dating back to the date that the motion to modify is filed.

Contact Us

If you are looking to modify a judgment of child support, spousal support, or something similar, the best place to start is by contacting a qualified and knowledgeable Michigan family law attorney, such as an attorney with Melissa Pearce & Associations, PLC. Our attorneys provide compassionate, efficient, and high quality representation in a wide range of family law matters and are ready to help you. Call us at (248) 676-8976 today.

~Originally Published in november 2017~

Domestic violence is still far too common and misunderstood in our society. Yet, it can be a difficult topic to discuss and even harder to spot. Women and men who are suffering from domestic violence will not likely come right out and admit it, either for fear of reprisal or because they themselves are not fully aware. One of the first steps to combating domestic violence, however, is to know what to look for.

1) The person is withdrawing. Domestic violence is not always physical violence. Often times, it can be emotional or mental abuse wherein one partner works to dominate and control the other partner. They will use fear, shame, and guilt to manipulate and isolate the other partner from their support systems and those who might be able to figure out what is going on. They will blame the other partner for the abuse, humiliate and yell at the other partner, and limit their access to the phone, the car, and money. Women are more likely to be victims, but they too can be perpetrators, particularly with verbal and emotional abuse.

2) The person has unexplained injuries. Most people will have bumps and bruises from benign events that do not raise eyebrows. Where those bumps and bruises become more common and are in places that are unusual, the possibility of some sort of physical violence in the home goes up. This is especially true if the person is also withdrawing from friends and family and giving vag

ue and unconvincing explanations for recent scrapes and injuries.

3) The person is fearful. Fear is an abuser’s most potent weapon in establishing and maintaining control over another partner. There can be fear of physical or sexual violence, as well as fear that the abuser will take away the partner’s children. There is also fear of the abuser’s uncontrollable temper or threats to commit suicide if the person should leave. Not surprisingl

y, this fear will likely spill over into all other aspects of the person’s life.

4) They are being worn down by the stress. Living with an abuser can be extremely stressful. Hypervigilance about staying on the abuser’s “good side”, or not making them angry, or just keeping the children safe means that the person may not be sleeping very much or eating. They may have unexplained headaches, digestive problems, asthma, or back pain. These are directly related to the constant stress of being in an abusive relationship and may be far more telling than any other factor that something is terribly wrong.

Domestic Violence and Gun Ownership in Michigan

If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are safe places in Michigan that can help you including First Step Shelter. If you are safe, but need legal guidance on how to extricate yourself from the relationship or to ensure the safety of your children, trust the attorneys at Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC who will handle your case with compassion and efficiency. Call us at (248) 676-8976 today.With respect to gun ownership and domestic violence, Michigan has neither the strictest nor the most lax laws in the United States. Anyone convicted of domestic violence or domestic assault in Michigan is prohibited from applying for a concealed pistol license for eight years after the conviction. Even then, the judge in the case has broad discretion to add additional restrictions on an individual’s ability to purchase, carry, transport, or possess any firearm.

~Originally Published in November 2017~

Children are often portrayed as the losers in divorce because the assumption is that they would be better off with two parents in the same household, rather than shuffling between homes, or worse, being used as a pawn in the larger divorce fight. However, it is possible for divorce to be beneficial for children. Here’s how.

1) Happier adults make happier children. If two people together are truly miserable, that misery will inevitably cascade onto the children of the marriage. The children may be brought into the overall unhappiness between the partners and be asked to take sides. Divorce in this case can free all of the parties from this tension because it allows the adults to remove the main stressor from their lives and start working on a new life. There are huge caveats, of course, namely that this process may take some time for everyone, but in the end, the net benefits of happiness can outweigh everything else.

2) You can teach your kids a really valuable lesson on working together. One of the hardest skills to master as an adult is being able to work effectively toward a common goal with someone who is diametrically opposed to them. Couples who divorce and then co-parent have a rich opportunity to show their children how to work with someone else with whom they may not get along with or even necessarily like. Modeling this incredibly difficult skill for your children will pay off for them down the road as they begin to navigate the world as adults.

3) You can teach your children about respect. There is a reason divorcing parents are counseled not to speak badly of their partner or future co-parent. This is partly because just divorce may end the relationship on paper, but the parties will still need to work together to parent. But, the other reason is that how a parent talks about their co-parent teaches their children how to treat people from all walks of life, even those they may not like at all. It also models to them how to be an adult in a relationship, even if that relationship goes sour. These are invaluable skills for your children to pick up when they get older.

4) They might get two extra parents out of the deal. Step-parents get a bad rap many times. They step into what can be a fraught situation and try to make the best of it. Sometimes, though, the partners that co-parents find themselves with can enhance the lives of the children involved. In the best case scenario, a child can get an additional two parents who are loving and supportive of them.

5) They end up with more one-on-one time with both parents. Assuming divorcing parents opt for joint custody and the children move between homes, it is very possible that the children will be able to have to time to develop a closer relationship with either parent since the other parent is no longer there during visits.

Divorce is never easy and certainly not for the children involved. However, it is possible for silver linings to be found in the numerous clouds both for you and for your children. If you are getting divorced or looking at divorce, contact Melissa Pearce and let her help you navigate the process. She has been where you are and understands what you are going through and what you need. Contact her today to get started.

~Originally Posted in August 2017~

School is out and chances are your kids are looking forward to a lot of sun, swimming, and zero homework. You may not be looking forward to summer, however, because without the schedule of school, your co-parenting arrangements may need to change or at least be altered temporarily. How do you handle vacations? Camp? Here are some tips on effectively co-parenting this summer.

1) Plan and plan. Summer camps start filling up in early spring, so this is a great time to sit down with your co-parent or mediator and devise a summer schedule. Figure out your vacation plans now‚ even if it is just to set aside a week or two on the calendar, and ask your co-parent to do the same. Depending upon how old your children are and their interests, you should also work out what exactly they’re going to be doing over the summer. Even doing nothing requires planning since they still need to have a place and a person with them while they are doing nothing. Again, get with your co-parent and figure out who will have the kids and when. If your parenting agreement states that one parent gets the kids for the entire summer, there still may be some flexibility in terms of getting a little time in with them.

2) Ask the kids what they want. If the children are old enough, ask them what their preference is for the summer. Ideally, this should not be an open-ended question but more of a list of choices and let them choose. Of course, the older the child, the more independent they may be, so this may not be as much of an issue.

3) Go in together on cost. Kids are expensive and a lot of that comes from activities, swim lessons, camps, and vacations. If you can, work out with your co-parent who will pick up what so that no one parent is spending a fortune without the other pitching in. Of course, this may already be spelled out in your parenting agreement in which case, go back and confirm that it is still a good distribution of financial responsibility.

4) Go with the flow. Co-parenting is as much about give and take as any other relationship. If your co-parent is dying to take the kids to Disney on a particular date and you were thinking about something else for them, be flexible and consider giving up your date so they can go. It’s also important to take into consideration that your kids are already having some adjustment issues due to school being over and they may not be seeing their friends as often. Take this into account as well as another reason to be flexible.

5) Don’t overdo it. If your co-parent is determined to take the kids to Paris, try not to take them to Rome too. Most divorced couples don’t have this problem, either from a financial perspective or an emotional one, but the desire may be there just the same to out-do the other parent in terms of showing the kids a good time. As always, this time is not about the parents, it’s about the children. They want to spend meaningful time with their parent, not watch an escalation of old battles and jealousies.

If you have questions about your co-parenting agreement, especially as it relates to the summer time, we are ready to help you understand your rights and craft an agreement that works for you and your co-parent. Contact us today to get started.

~Originally Posted in July 2017~

A child may bear a striking resemblance to a man and everyone can tell he is the child’s father, but unless that man was married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth or conception, the law does not consider the man to be the child’s legal father. Welcome to the world of paternity, or as it’s known in Michigan: lawful fatherhood.

While paternity laws work automatically when the parents are married to each other, this is not the case when the couple is unmarried. With the rate of children born out of wedlock increasing, it is vitally important to know how these children are recognized by the state because it is through this recognition that those children get legal access to both parents and government services and benefits.

Unmarried couples who have children together must take that extra step to establish paternity because under the law, the child has no legal father without it. The good news is that establishing paternity for unmarried couples is fairly straightforward in Michigan. They can do it voluntarily by agreeing to name the father of the child via an affidavit that is duly signed and sworn before a notary. These couples can even do it for free in the hospital when the child is born. Of course, it can be done later as well, but it will require the reissuance of a birth certificate for the child. These couples can also establish paternity by asking a court to decide paternity. In this situation, the court will usually order a DNA test to determine definitively who the father of the child is.

If a couple does take the affidavit route toward establishing paternity, they are also agreeing to certain conditions. Some examples of these conditions may be that the mother has custody of the child unless there is another agreement in writing, that both parents will be notified if one parent wants the child to be adopted by a third party, that both parents must provide support for the child, and that the parents lose their right to a DNA test to definitely establish paternity or have a trial to establish paternity.

No matter how paternity is established, however, it is incredibly important to get it done as soon as possible in the child’s life. This is because a child has a better chance of success in life with two parents supporting them, and establishing paternity gives fathers an opportunity to share in the care of their child. A father who establishes paternity via affidavit is also entitled to file a claim for custody or parenting time. The child can also become legally entitled to benefits from both parents including insurance policies, veterans’ benefits, retirement benefits, pensions, inheritances, and disability benefits.

If there is uncertainty as to whether the man is actually the child’s father, it is best not to proceed using an affidavit because once paternity has been established, it can be almost impossible to reverse it—even if there are DNA tests proving that the father listed on the affidavit is not the real father. Mothers who are uncertain as to the paternity of their child should consider having the court establish paternity via DNA testing to be absolutely certain.

While the law grants parental rights via paternity affidavits, it can also take them away via termination of parental rights. Termination of rights is extremely difficult and this is made so purposely to make it an option of last resort. Termination severs all parental ties, including for purposes of inheritance, benefits, and other legal rights.

If you have questions about paternity or parenting rights in Michigan, contact Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC. We can help you understand the applicable state laws and get the best resolution for you and your family.

~Originally Posted in June 2017~