“My girlfriend moved out last week and now she won’t let me even see our two-year-old child. What can I do?” At Sterling Law, I hear these desperate phone inquiries from unmarried Michigan fathers. After confirming that the girlfriend is not married to another man, I ask, “Are you the father on your child’s birth certificate? Did the mom and you sign an Affidavit of Parentage (AOP)? Are there any court orders regarding custody or parenting time?” Many of these dads have been changing diapers, coaching soccer, and dishing up mac-n-cheese right along with the moms of their kids, but are suddenly being denied access to their children.
What these dads don’t know is that the AOP’s fine print gives the moms default custody until a court orders otherwise. I wish that I could follow the hospital medical records clerks around while they approach new unmarried parents with the Michigan Affidavit of Parentage form. This is how to get the guy’s name as the father of the newborn on the birth certificate, they tell him. In his sleep-deprived bliss with the birth of the beautiful baby, these unmarried dads fail to notice the fine print on the affidavit that reads, “The mother has initial custody of the child, without prejudice to the determination of either parent’s custodial rights, until otherwise determined by the court or agreed upon by the parties in writing and acknowledged by the court.” Unless the parents previously agreed to custody and parenting time in a child support case, getting a court order usually means filing a Complaint to Establish Custody, Support, and Parenting Time with the family court clerk in the county where the child lives. Sterling Law can help you.
If parentage has not yet been established, or if parentage is in question, we can also assist you with a paternity action.
Research has indicated how very important it is for child development that kids have access to their dad and that is true whether the dad was married to the mom or not. Dads without a parenting time plan providing overnights with their children also pay the highest premium in child support.
Call Sterling Law at (877) 923-2326 for a free unmarried parent telephone consult. We follow up telephone consults with a Case Evaluation.
At a Case Evaluation, we meet with you in person (or by telephone if you are unable to come to one of our offices). After an intake interview, we hear the details of your story and your goals. We help you understand your legal rights. After we help you sort it all out, we create for you a Plan of Action identifying your Next Steps to reach your goals. We charge a flat fee of $95.00 for the Case Evaluation. Most people find that the Case Evaluation is extremely helpful. We see these potential clients lift their shoulders back and breathe a sigh of relief when they leave our office following a Case Evaluation.
After a Case Evaluation, if your Plan of Action calls for attorney involvement, you may want to hire our firm to represent you. If so, you can expect to then sign a contract and pay a deposit on your future legal expenses. We will then form your legal team consisting of a Senior Advising Attorney, an Associate Attorney, a Legal Assistant, and our support staff. The team will spring to action to begin work on your case.