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Paternity cases can be complicated by many definitions of father

We have written before about how challenging paternity cases can be in Michigan. Observers offer many explanations for why that is the case. Some suggest that the state's child custody and visitation laws are somewhat outdated.

In apparent response to that, lawmakers in Lansing are considering at least one measure this session. The bill, which would establish joint custody as the model presumed to be in the best interests of children, is still working its way through the process so it's impossible to know how things will play out.

Another factor that could potentially make the final decision harder is the fact that Michigan law includes as many as five definitions of father on the books. This is a breakdown according to the 2012 Revocation of Paternity Act.

  • Acknowledged father: A man earns this tag by signing and executing the proper documentation as laid out under the acknowledgment of parentage act of 1996.
  • Alleged father: The law says this is "a man who by his actions could have fathered the child."
  • Affiliated father: This designation is one assigned by a determination of a court.
  • Genetic father: As the phrase suggests, this is the definition assigned when testing confirms biological fatherhood as described by one of three different state laws.
  • Presumed father: A man is automatically recognized to be father of a child if he and the mother were married at the time she became pregnant or gave birth.

On one hand, these delineations recognize that establishing parentage is not as simple as it used to be. Individuals can become fathers and mothers in many different ways. On the other hand, the way the state currently determines issues related to child support is done by a formula.

Obviously, changing the variables in the equation can influence the eventual solution, and obtaining an outcome you deem fair can depend on working with an experienced attorney.

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Paternity cases can be complicated by many definitions of father | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC