Courts Establishing Paternity

Doing What's Best for Your Baby
Developed by the Michigan Department of Social Services Office of Child Support and the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office - August 1992

What is Paternity?
Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means making the biological father a legal father, too.
All children have two parents. It is important for your child to know who its mother and father are. Paternity should be established if the parents of a child are not married to each other.

Why is it Important to my Child to Establish Paternity?
The name of the father appears on the baby's birth certificate.
Your baby can benefit from parental care by both the mother and father.
Information about the family health history of both parents will be available if disease or illness develops.
Both parents have a responsibility to support their child. Both the mother and the father can provide financial help for the baby as he or she grows up. Receiving child support from the father can make a big difference in providing for your child.
By establishing paternity, you ensure your child qualifies for benefits from the father.
These benefits may include social security, insurance benefits, inheritance rights, veterans and other types of benefits.

What are the Benefits to the Father of Establishing Paternity?
The father has a chance to be a dad. The father can experience the companionship and rewards that come with spendin time with his baby. The father has a right to establish and maintain a relationship with his child.

How is Legal Paternity Established?
If the mother is married when the baby is born, her husband is considered by law to be the father.
If the mother is married at the time of conception or birth but her husband is not the biological father of the child, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is not allowed. If the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, paternity can be established in two ways:
    • Both parents sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity at the hospital which is then recorded with the probate court.

  • A judge can declare a man the legal father of a child.

How can I Establish Paternity for my Baby?
Ask to complete voluntary paternity acknowledgment forms at the hospital when you give birth. If paternity is not established at birth, telephone the support specialist at your county Department of Social Services for free help. (You do not have to be on public assistance to seek help, from the support specialist.)

Why Should I Think about this Issue Now?
If the father becomes involved from the beginning of the baby's life, he is more likely to continue to care for the baby both financially and emotionally as the child grows. Your baby needs both parents. Give your baby the best start in life by getting paternity established as soon as possible.