Ask A Divorce Lawyer: I pay child support, so don’t I have visitation rights?

Question: 

I found out about a year ago that I have a daughter that is now 5 years old. I am currently paying child support for her, as well as the back support for the past 4 years. I was never married to her mother. She actually thought this child was someone else’s until the DNA test proved her wrong.

What rights do I have to my daughter as far as visitation goes? She only lets me see her when she is fighting with her now boyfriend who has helped raise my daughter.

 

 
Answer:
 
Although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney formally because I can only give you general information about paternity case themes. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship.

The answer to your question depends on a few different things –notably, how paternity was established and whether your child support order actually contains custody and parenting time provisions. Based on the facts you provided, I surmise that your daughter’s mother and/or the local prosecutor brought a court action against you to establish paternity and obtain a child support order. At that time, the judge could have entered an order for child custody and parenting time. If that happened, read your order carefully. The order should indicate whether you have parenting time rights. If the order is silent on custody and parenting time, then most states apply a default rule that you do not have either. Merely paying child support for your daughter does not give you these rights.

If you would like to establish them, you might consider initiating a court case to do so. The standards for obtaining or modifying a custody order vary by state, the facts of your case and the judge or family referee hearing your motion. You should contact an attorney if you want to pursue time with your daughter immediately, as there are specific and very complicated filing requirements to follow.

 

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

 

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