Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What's an unmarried man's rights to an unborn child? Can he claim paternity?

Q: I'm an unmarried father-to-be. My concern is that my ex (things went south after we found out she was pregnant), will try to move out of state, or keep my from seeing my child. Even though our relationship went south, doesn't mean that I want to be uninvolved with my child's life. What can I do? Can I claim paternity right now? 

A: No, you can't. or at least, not yet. 
Barring exceptional circumstances, a Michigan court is not going to issue an order to grant custody to the unmarried father of an unborn child.

The law currently will place custody of the newborn with the mother, unless there are those circumstances that would show the mother is a risk to the child already.

If a couple is married, there is a legal presumption that any child of those adults is a product of the marriage (although that presumption can be rebutted). By contrast, an unwed dad can't claim paternity, parenting time or custody rights (which are typically accompanied by a need to pay support for the child) until the child is born.

Once that child is born, the father needs to act to claim his rights to paternity, etc. He can do that by acknowledging paternity through singing the birth certificate, or through the assistance of an attorney (if, for example, the mother hides her pregnancy from the father who is then unaware of the child until after it is born).

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