I have a question about paternity laws. My girlfriend and I have a child together, but she is threatening to move and keeping me from seeing our baby.
Since there is not a custody order and we are not married, can she move without my permission? If she can move, what should I do to protect myself from this happening?
In Michigan (where I practice), any children born during the marriage are presumed to be the children of the husband and wife. The issue is a bit more complicated when you are not married, and you will need to establish paternity.
The simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign an Affidavit of Parentage – sometimes couples do this at the hospital when the child is born. If you have not done this, then you need to contact the Department of Human Services to get a form to complete. By signing the form, the paternity of the child is legally established.
You can also establish paternity through a civil action. MCL 722.714 provides that a father, a mother, or a child who has reached the age of 18 can bring an action in the circuit court to establish paternity.
Because you are not disputing that you are the father, you can simply acknowledge that you are the father, and an order establishing paternity can then be entered by the court.
Once paternity is established, the court will make determinations as to child support, medical expenses, custody, and parenting time, if you are not able to agree with your girlfriend about those things.
Once your paternity is established (whether you did this at the child’s birth or if you have to take steps to establish it now), you have the same custodial rights to the child as the mother does.
If she denies you access to the child in any fashion, you need to petition the court right away to establish your rights to custody and parenting time of the child, as well as establish appropriate child support.
Please note that I am not able to give you legal advice without having thoroughly reviewed your case, and therefore you should not rely on this information as an establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
If you need detailed information or advice, or wish to take specific action in this matter, you need to contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients and nationwide.