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The natural father of a child has to pay child support even if he is not married to the child's mother. He also has to pay for the costs of the mother's pregnancy and the child's birth.

The natural father has some rights too. He has the right to ask for custody or visitation with his child. He also has the right to be told about any court case involving the child - like an adoption case - so that he can say what he thinks is best for his child.

But before the natural father has any responsibilities or rights, he and the mother have to sign a paper called an affidavit of parentage (Acknowledgement of Paternity) or the court has to sign an order saying that he is the father.

You can get the Affidavit of Parentage at many places, some are:

  • Department of Public Health
  • Family Independence Agency
  • Hospitals
  • Probate Court

Once this form is filled out, it has to be taken to the Probate Court to be filed. When it is filed, the natural father becomes the legal father of the child.

The same Affidavit of Parentage form can be used to change the child's birth certificate.

If the father (or the mother) will not sign the Affidavit of Parentage then a court case called a Paternity action can be started by the mother against the father (or by the father against the mother).

Often the Prosecuting Attorney starts the Paternity case for the mother if she is on FIP - public assistance.

If the mother or Prosecutor starts a Paternity case against a man who does not have enough money to hire a layer, the court has to appoint a lawyer for him.

In a paternity case the Judge will usually order blood tests on the mother and child and the man who may be the child's father (called the Putative Father). These tests are almost 100% accurate and can now come into court to prove who the father is (or isn't)

If putative father is too poor to pay for the blood test, the county must pay for them.

This information is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice, see a lawyer.

If you fee you are being harassed, call a lawyer or your legal aid office.

Legal services of Northern Michigan can provide legal assistance to low-income persons in civil matters.

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