Monday, October 23, 2006

#15 Paternity

By Attorney Terry Ray Bankert 810 235-1970

Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Alimony, Child Neglect, Flint Michigan USA Lawyer.

Articles on Divorce and Lawyers in Flint, Genesee County Michigan USA

Do you need help now? Call 810 235-1970 !

"Paternity" refers to the legal establishment of who is the father of a child. Paternity issues often arise in cases involving child support, but they can also be important in relation to adoption, inheritance, custody and visitation, health care, and other issues.

In Michigan the paternity of a child may be established in several ways.
1. During a divorce the matter may be litigated.
2.When the parties are not married an action may be brought for custody and support.
3. Parents may sign an affidavit of parentage after a birth and father may file a notice of intent to claim paternity before a marriage. The State of Michigan may bring an action when mother receives public assistance.

The establishment of paternity under another states law has the same effect as a Michigan acknowledgement of parentage or order of filiation.

Putative fathers [dads not legally recognized yet] may not seek custody under the Child Custody Act of 1970 withour a prior acknowledgement of paternity or order of filiation. Dads cannot legally protect their rights to see their kids until this is done.

In a divorce action, the court has no authority to determine the paternity of a third party, although it may determine the husbands paternity rights if the court has jurisdiction. A finding of fact in a divorce decree that a child was born of the marraige bars relitigation of paternity even if the isue was not contested.

Paternity Actions in Court

An action to establish paternity is a civil proceeding properly filed in the Genesee County Family court. When the court finds the man to be the father of a child in question it orders what is called an order of filiation. A man with limited income has the right to counsel in a paternity action. If the court orders a test and the man does not comply the court can enter a default judgement against the man. Either party may demand a jury trial in a paternity action. If the court finds the man to be the father of the child an order of filiation is entered. Attorney fees, court costs may be awarded in paternity cases.

DNA Testing and Paternity

In a DNA test, the scientist examines the genetic material that the child inherited from its biological parents. First the child's genetic characteristics are compared to those of the mother. The characteristics in the child that are not found in the mother are determined to have come from the father. If the man being tested does not have these genetic characteristics in his DNA, he can be scientifically excluded. If the man does have such characteristics, the probability of his paternity is calculated. DNA testing can establish a father's paternity with over ninety-nine percent accuracy. DNA testing can be done even before the child is born.

Establishing Paternity

DNA testing is generally done only when one party contests the paternity allegations. For instance, the putative (or "alleged") father in a paternity action that is the basis for child support collection may require proof that he is the child's father before he consents to payment of support. In other cases, the mother may contest the putative father's paternity, such as when a man attempts to gain custody of or visitation with a child he believes to be his. In many other cases, there is no argument between the parents, and paternity can be established voluntarily. Paternity may also be established by circumstantial evidence, such as when a man takes the child into his home and holds the child out to the public as his own. A married man is presumed to be the father of a baby born to his wife during or shortly after their marriage.

Once paternity is established, the father may be ordered to pay child support for his child. A father who is not married to the child's mother generally will not be awarded custody of the child if the mother is providing reasonable care, but he may receive preference over third parties, such as grandparents or prospective adoptive parents.

In a recent case called Barnes v Jendevine , 475 Mich 696 (7/26/2006) a dad asked the court to determine that he was the dad of a child where he had an affidavit of parentage and his name was on the childs birth certificate but the child was conceived before mom finalized her divorce. The court concluded that the child was born or conceived during a marriage and there was no court decision that the child was not of the marriage. Dad therefore did not have a right to go to court to seek paternity and parenting time.

Paternity issues, like most family law issues, can have far-reaching implications, both financially and emotionally. When faced with these issues, it is important to seek the counsel of an objective, experienced lawyer

By Attorney Terry Ray Bankert 810 235-1970

Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Alimony, Child Neglect, Flint Michigan USA Lawyer.
Articles on Divorce and Lawyers in Flint, Genesee County Michigan USA you need help now?
Call 810 235-1970 !

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