Protecting The Rights Of Unmarried Parents
The Michigan laws of custody, visitation and child support apply whether you were married or not. An unwed father has the right to be involved in his child’s life. An unwed mother has a legal expectation of financial support.
However, the paternity legal process is different from a divorce case. The dynamics of the relationship may be different too, especially when unmarried parents have little history together. Resolving these conflicts may require a light touch in negotiations or a heavy hand in court.
At the Law Offices of Harris & Literski in Brighton, our experienced family law attorneys can explain where you stand and help you assert your parental rights. Our firm represents both men and women in paternity matters before the family courts of Livingston County, Michigan.
A married man is automatically considered the father of any children born during the marriage. But in a paternity case, the court requires proof of fatherhood through a DNA test. Genetic testing is considered definitive proof of parentage — one way or the other. We can help arrange for a paternity test, including a court order to compel a putative father who denies that a child is his.
Once the courts establish paternity:
- The father can petition for visitation and custody rights. If he has not been involved in the child’s life, the court may start with supervised visits and gradually step up to unsupervised parenting time, overnights and shared parenting agreements. The mother cannot deny visitation without showing that it would be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
- The mother can seek a child support order. We can make sure that child support is correctly calculated under the Michigan guidelines. The court may grant retroactive support to the date of birth for expenses borne solely by the mother.
Working Out The Parenting Plan
The law presumes that children are best served when both parents are involved in their upbringing. In paternity cases, co-parenting may be strained because of old resentments, new partners or the awkwardness of the situation. We help clients resolve financial issues and develop a parenting plan that is specific but practical and flexible, to avoid future disputes and courtroom conflicts.
Our attorneys take pride in providing quality legal counsel and exceptional client service. We know how important this is during this tense and rapidly changing time in your life. Contact our Brighton paternity lawyers to arrange your free initial consultation.