Affidavit of Parentage: When Dad Becomes a Legal Father and How Do I Even Know If It Exists?
When a child is born to married parents, the husband is legally the father of the child, unless the court determines otherwise during litigation. If parents are not married, the father can become the legal father of the child when the judge orders that he is the father (after the opportunity for DNA testing and a hearing) or if both parties sign an Affidavit of Parentage.
Unmarried parents are encouraged to sign the Affidavit in the hospital when the child is born. The State of Michigan keeps a record of the Affidavits. There are advantages and disadvantages to signing the Affidavit.
If an Affidavit is signed by both parents and they separate, they no longer have to participate in litigation to establish dad as the legal father. This avoids weeks or months of delay when establishing child custody, parenting time and child support. Similarly, when parents live together, the father has legal rights when dealing with school enrollment and involvement.
On the other hand, when a man signs the Affidavit, he is typically no longer entitled to DNA testing or a trial to determine if he is the father of the child.
If you don’t know if you and your partner signed an Affidavit, you can file an Application with the State of Michigan to verify if a record exists. Anyone can request the verification because the state will only verify that a record exists; it will not release the parents’ names on the record. You can also file an Application to request a certified copy of the Application.
To request a copy of the Affidavit, the processing time is approximately five weeks. Same day processing is available if you need the Affidavit immediately to start legal proceedings. Keep in mind that you will need to pick up a copy in person and you must arrive before 3:00 PM. Take a look at the second page of the certified copy Application for requirements and directions.
If you need a copy of the Affidavit because you will be involved in litigation about your child, you should create a proactive plan with your attorney, and you should do so as soon as possible. Being well prepared is worth it.