After a separation, determining custody may become an uphill battle. A key component to aid in a father’s bid for custody is establishing paternity.

For those fathers who are not married to the mother, this is actually a critical step. To aid in this endeavor, there are a few key factors to know about establishing paternity.


When a married couple has a child, the husband is automatically the father. However, for an unmarried couple, at least one of the parents has to designate the father. This may occur one of two ways:

  1. Both parties voluntarily agree to paternity
  2. One party enlists the court’s help to determine paternity

Michigan’s Paternity Act fully details the different ways the courts determine paternity in the state. Parents should become acquainted with the requirements and the set process when seeking a determination.

Places to establish

In order to establish custody, both parents must complete an affidavit in front of a witness. There are four main locations for this affidavit:

  1. Hospital of child’s birth
  2. Local Registrar’s Office
  3. A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  4. Online

Once both parents complete and submit the affidavit, the courts may add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. If the parents complete this at the hospital following the birth of the child, it is free, but if completed later on, the parents may incur a fee.


When a parent claims paternity of a child, the child gains certain rights from the parent. Along with physical security, such as financial support and health insurance, the child also gains some things that are important for their emotional and mental health. Knowing a child’s parents provides them with identity and family ties that may aid them in their future development.

These are just a few of the main factors that may help a parent to establish paternity. If you or a loved one is looking to solidify paternity, it may be beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable professional to determine the best course of action.

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