Sometimes, when a child in Michigan is born to unmarried parents, both parents will agree to sign an Affidavit of Parentage form. Doing so establishes paternity, meaning that the child's mother can subsequently seek child support from the child's father, and the child's father can seek parenting time with the child if he wishes. However, sometimes a parent does not wish to sign this form. If this is the case, then a parent can file a paternity case to establish parentage of the child.
If a person is pursuing a paternity case, first a complaint needs to be filed with the court. The other parent will be served with notice of the hearing. Blood tests will be taken from the parents and child. Finally, a hearing will be held. The purported father can, at any time, claim to be the child's biological parent, and if so the court can establish a paternity order. However, if the purported father disagrees with the results of the blood test then a trial will take place in which the court will either establish an order of paternity or, if appropriate, dismiss the claim.
Paternity is important to establish for a variety of reasons. Children benefit from knowing who their parents are. They benefit from knowing family health history and they benefit from being able to inherit. Mostly, once paternity is established the parents can seek child support and parenting time, both of which can be in the best interests of the child.
Of course, this post only provides a basic overview on the topic of paternity in Michigan and should not form the basis of any legal action. Parents in Michigan who have more questions about establishing paternity and what happens after an order of paternity is issued can seek legal guidance, so they can make informed decisions moving forward.