How to Establish Paternity in Michigan?

Establishing paternity in Michigan means corroborating who the biological father of the child is, in case the child is born to unmarried parents. It is to ensure that the person tested is the real father of the child. However, not all are aware of how to establish paternity in Michigan?

If the parents are married, the husband is considered the father of the child automatically. His name is placed on the birth certificate of the child, as he is assumed as the legal father of the child. That is the case unless the DNA testing says otherwise and the court determines the person is not the father. 

If the parents are not married, then the paternity must be authenticated after the birth of the child. 

How can I establish a Paternity in Michigan?

A most common way to establish paternity is for the couples to be married at the time of birth. But in the case of unmarried couples, paternity in Michigan can be done either voluntarily or involuntarily. 


If the father and the mother agree that the father is the bio dad of the child, they can establish paternity by the voluntary method.  For this, both mother and father will have to sign a Parentage Affidavit at the hospital.

This is done after birthing the child and free of charge.  The affidavit can be signed later as well, but in Michigan, you will be charged a small fee for late signatures. You can also change the father’s name (terms and conditions applied) or add it to the certificate for the fee.

After you sign the affidavit, it will be filed with the Department of Community Health at the Central Paternity Registry as well as the Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

The father is allowed to sign the Parentage Affidavit even if he is married to someone else. Once signed, the father will be considered as the legal father of the child. 


This is done through the court proceedings. In this, the court issues the order of filiation. This is simply another term for paternity,  this way is called ‘involuntary’ because there is a dispute about the paternity between the mother and the father, which leads to it becoming a court problem. 

Either the mother or father can file for paternity in a court to establish their parentage status. The Michigan Department of Human Services can also file for a paternity suit against either parent on the public’s behalf. This is done in case the child is receiving public support.

Petitioner is the term used for the person who wished to establish paternity. They have to file a complaint to establish paternity. This should be done at a circuit court where the mother and/or the child are living. This is done to begin the court proceedings. 

A Genetic/DNA test may be needed in case the alleged father denies paternity. If the alleged person is established as the father, they will be asked to pay the cost of the test. This may also include unpaid child support or the money demanded by the mother for reimbursement.

If the court determines that the person is the bio father, then the court will issue another order. This will make the person the ‘legal father’ of the child. 

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Both the father and the child have rights when it comes to paternity. Establishing paternity is more than a financial and legal matter too, every child should have a parental figure in their life.

Even if the parent may not wish to stick around, they should know who their mother and father are. This also makes it easy for the system to track down the children in case of inheritance etc. 

In Michigan, the initial custody of the child is given to the mother after signing the Affidavit of Parentage, unless it has been determined by the court otherwise. The other option is when the parents agree to the transfer of custody to the father and provide it in writing.

But the father can request visitation or custody of the kid after the paternity has been established. The child will also be provided support from the father. The mother can obtain child support after the determination of paternity. 

Also, until the men have not established the paternity, they will not be allowed to make any decision regarding the child. Additionally, they will not be provided any notice or input about the child’s status. This includes decisions like education, medical treatments, etc. 

As per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, children will receive benefits from both the father and the mother. They will be able to gain advantages like social security, medical insurance, life insurance, and veteran’s benefits (if any). 

Also, both the father and the child hold the right to inheritance. In case, either passes away before the other, one of them can gain the inheritance left. 

Seeking legal support for paternity

For unwed fathers, establishing paternity can be a complicated matter, especially when it is contested for. The men should seek out attorneys for consultation and how to approach the issue. The attorney will help them understand their rights and responsibilities and how they can proceed with it. 

Author’s note

For more information, you can reach out to the Michigan Department of Human Services. You can request information from their official website. You will find more information about paternity establishment, forms, and other publications such as ‘What Every Parent Should Know About Establishing Paternity’.

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