Father holding his children in a field

Paternity Lawyers

Determining Paternity in Michigan

At Melissa Pearce & Associates, children’s wellbeing is our highest priority. We believe parents should work together to support their children, as does the state of Michigan. Michigan courts will always look to what is in the “best interest of the child” in order to make determinations regarding custody and support. As a result, under Michigan law, both parents must financially support their children. Unfortunately, sometimes parent-child relationships can become complicated. Whether you are seeking support from your child’s other parent or have received a paternity suit, our paternity lawyers may be able to support you through this difficult and overwhelming process. We have represented clients in paternity suits across southeast Michigan. Our deep experience in legal paternity actions has granted us unique insight into the complex emotions at play.

What Is a Paternity Action?

In Michigan, both legal parents are financially responsible for their children. In order to determine child support, there must be a determination of legal parenthood. A paternity action seeks to establish a person’s legal status as a child’s father.

A mother has a right to establish the legal fatherhood of her child. When a child is born to a married mother, her husband is the legal father. However, when a child is born to an unmarried couple, paternity may need to be established, voluntarily or involuntarily. Once established, the father may be responsible for financial care of the child, in the form of child support. If receiving public assistance, the state of Michigan may require the mother to seek child support from the father. Where necessary, the state may file a paternity suit to determine who is the legal father. In some cases, a father may wish to file a suit to establish his own paternity.

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Voluntary Establishment of Paternity

A father can voluntarily establish his paternity of a child. The father may work with the hospital where the child was born to obtain an Affidavit of Paternity. 

Involuntary Establishment of Paternity

On the other hand, a person accused of paternity may wish to dispute whether he is the father of a child. The person seeking to establish paternity must first file a complaint. If the person named in the paternity action does not believe he is the biological father, then he may respond to the complaint by denying the allegation. At this point in the suit, the court may order the person to undergo DNA testing to determine whether he is the biological father of the child.

What Are the Legal Effects of Establishing Paternity?

Once established, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, there are certain legal consequences to the paternity finding. The father will now be responsible for contributing to the financial support of his child or children. This may also entitle him to certain rights, such as to seek custody or parenting time. Some of the consequences of establishing paternity to the father include:

  • Must contribute financial support to the child
  • May file a petition for custody or parenting time
  • The father may not dispute his paternity in the future

At Melissa Pearce & Associates, we prioritize the wellbeing of children. Children may be subject to a range of legal consequences after a paternity action. Some of these effects may include:

  • Entitlement to the father’s inheritance
  • Entitlement to the father’s health insurance or other benefits
  • New custody or parenting time arrangements

Trust Our Experienced Michigan Paternity Lawyers

We understand that for parents and children, paternity actions and their impact reach far beyond legal definitions. A child’s relationship with their parents is important for their growth and development, and disruptions to a routine can have severe social and psychological consequences for a child. At the same time, a father who wants to be involved should have the opportunity to do so if it is the child’s best interest.

The experienced family lawyers at Melissa Pearce & Associates have represented many clients on both sides of paternity actions. We believe that when parents can work together amicably, they can better support their children. 

If you are considering seeking a paternity order, or if you have been served with a paternity suit, contact our family lawyers today to schedule a pre-engagement meeting. We understand that every situation is unique, but we believe in a parent’s fundamental right to be involved in their child’s life. Let us work with you to help defend your parental rights.

Schedule Your Pre-Engagement Meeting Today

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