Understanding the Importance of Establishing Legal Fatherhood
Whenever a child is born out of wedlock, an attempt is made to have the presumed father sign an affidavit of parentage, usually in the hours following birth in the hospital. The purpose of this document is to establish legal fatherhood, providing the child with a father in the eyes of various governing entities. Signing the affidavit and identifying as the legal father is one of two ways to establish paternity (fatherhood), and although it is voluntary, if you know you are the father, it is important for both of you to sign the affidavit.
Why is legal fatherhood important for my child?
Identity: It is important to know who we are and where we come from. Having your name on your child’s birth certificate helps her with an identity. Your child has the right to the sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents.
Benefits: He or she also has the right to other benefits such as: Social Security, insurance benefits (including medical), inheritance rights, veterans’ benefits and other types of benefits.
Medical: Your child may need a complete medical history from the families of both parents. Establishing legal fatherhood could provide important information about inherited health problems (For example, polycystic kidney disease which is an inherited disease that is passed down through families, in which many cysts form in the kidneys, causing them to become enlarged).
Money: Both federal and state laws require both of the parents to support their children. This is true even with an unplanned pregnancy. Children supported by one parent often do not have enough money for their needs.
Why is legal fatherhood important for me?
As the legally established father, you have the right to see and spend time with him or her.
Legal fatherhood better-ensures you the ability and opportunity to teach and educate him or her, to provide for his or her health and material needs, and to be the most significant adult in his or her life.
You get to relive your own childhood and experience the joy of seeing the world through new eyes. You will read again stories that were read to you, play games that you used to play, use crayons and build with Lego blocks.
It doesn’t even matter if you are a minor. Under Michigan’s paternity laws your age is irrelevant. You can be a minor and still be the legal father of your child. The difference between establishing legal fatherhood as a minor father and as an adult father is that the adult father is expected to pay child support immediately, whereas a minor father is only expected to pay child support upon graduation from high school, or when they begin receiving income, whichever is first.
There is another way to establish paternity. The mother, you, or the state of Michigan, can ask the court to order a paternity test. If the test results come back that there is a greater than 99 percent likelihood that you are the father, the court will likely side with the test results and a legal father you will then be. Going through the court system can be time consuming and difficult. If you have a paternity case going on, or you are thinking of filing one yourself, now is the time to consult with an attorney at the Law Offices of Sean Patrick Cox who can help you through the process.
If you or someone you know is having a problem establishing legal fatherhood where they may need the assistance of our family law attorneys, please call the Law Offices of Sean Patrick Cox P.L.L.C. at (616) 942-6404 for a free consultation.