The father of a child who is born out of wedlock may feel that his parental rights are inferior to the mother's. This, however, is not the case in Michigan. Consult an attorney in your jurisdiction if you have questions about your rights as a parent.
A common misconception is that the right to parenting time lies with the mother and father, but Michigan law specifies that it is actually the child's right to have parenting time with both parents. The best interests of the child dictate parenting time, and it is presumed that these interests include having a strong relationship with both parents. The frequency, duration and type of parenting time is reasonably calculated to promote such a relationship with the parent to whom parenting time has been granted. Only if it would endanger the child's physical, mental or emotional health, does the child not have a right to parenting time with both parents.
Establishing paternity is the first step toward being granted parenting time with a child born out of wedlock. Paternity can be established in a number of ways: First, the father may be named on the child's birth certificate in conjunction with the completion of an acknowledgment of parentage form. Second, an acknowledgment of parentage form can be completed by the child's mother and father to acknowledge the child's paternity. Third, the father of the child may file a verified notice of intent to claim paternity with any Michigan county court; once filed, the claimant is presumed to be the biological father of the child unless the mother denies this. Fourth, following a legal action to determine paternity, the court may enter an order of filliation.
Putative Fathers' Rights
The putative, or reputed, father of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to notice of any hearing involving that child to determine the identity of the father and any hearing to determine or terminate his paternal rights to the child. For purposes of adoption, if the release or consent of the biological father cannot be obtained, the child shall not be placed for adoption until his parental rights are terminated by the court. With respect to all other matters, a father's right is equal to a mother's: he may initiate proceedings to determine paternity, custody, parenting time and child support.
With the rights and privileges of fatherhood come responsibilities. The father of a child born out of wedlock is equally liable for the medical expenses associated with the mother's pregnancy and the birth of the child, and the necessary financial support and education of the child.