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What if your child's mother won't acknowledge your paternity?

What happens to your rights as a father in Michigan when you aren't married to your child's mother and aren't legally acknowledged as the child's father?

Essentially, you have none.

There are a number of reasons that a woman may not choose to acknowledge the identity of her child's father:

-- Family pressure may come into play if the father is from a different religious, cultural or ethnic background.

-- Personal or family desire may be at the root of the issue if the relationship with the father soured after the child was conceived.

-- The mother is already married to another man and wants to hide the child's actual paternity.

-- The mother may have personal doubts about the identity of the father if the mother was involved with more than one man at the time of conception.

The mother may also simply be unwilling to share custody of the child with the father for some reason.

Some fathers may be disinterested in their custody rights or consider it a relief not to have to pay child support. However, if you aren't in the category, the only way to overcome the mother's resistance to allowing you to be a part of your child's life is to establish your paternity by forcing the issue.

You can do that by contacting the Office of Child Support. Child Support will help you set up DNA testing, which is a genetic test that is considered the most accurate form of paternity testing available. A positive DNA test result means that you are at least 99 percent likely to be the child's father.

Child Support will help you set up the testing at little or no cost to you because the state has an invested interest in making sure that a child has the support he or she needs from both parents financially and emotionally as he or she ages.

If the mother is still resisting your efforts to be part of your child's life, a father's rights attorney can provide advice on how to press your legal custody and visitation rights.

Source: michigan.gov/childsupport, "DNA Paternity Testing," accessed April 26, 2017

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