West Michigan Paternity and Child Custody Lawyers
When a child is born outside of a marriage, the father of that child has no legal or physical rights to that child until a legal action is filed and he is awarded custody rights by court decree. Many fathers are mistaken in their belief that they have equal rights, or any rights, to a child born outside a marriage.
At Gordon & Shaw, PLC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we represent men looking to prove their paternity, to gain custody or visitation rights or to disprove paternity when there are demands put upon them to support a child. Regardless of your situation, we will explain all your options and develop a successful strategy from the very beginning.
Immediate Action Needed
If you suspect that you fathered a child during a previous relationship, and that a child was born, you should take immediate action to establish paternity and protect your rights as a father. Timing is extremely important in a paternity case to receive a fair custody, parenting time and child support order. You do not want to delay taking action and to allow an unfavorable custodial environment to become established. Let us help protect your rights.
Voluntary Affidavits versus Court Actions
If a father has signed an "affidavit of paternity" then he is legally recognized as the father of that child; however the fine print on that same document also awards the mother all custody rights "until further order of the court." Technically, all visitation that the father may receive is solely left to the mother's discretion. This can be very misleading while the parties continue to date or to reside together and the father has complete access to the child. If the parties should separate or the mother wants to limit the father's access to that child the father's only legal recourse is to file an action in court.
If a father has NOT signed an "affidavit of parentage" then he is NOT legally recognized as the father of that child until an "affidavit of parentage" has been signed by both parties or until a blood or DNA test is administered and the court declares him the father. The birth mother may not be willing to admit your parentage by signing a voluntary affidavit and she may not be willing to consent to any paternity testing at all. If this is the case, you need to take immediate action.
Whatever your situation is, the attorneys at Gordon & Shaw, PLC will quickly file a court action on your behalf to establish paternity and immediately seek custody and a visitation schedule for you without delay. You have a right to see your children and we can help.
Many men find themselves being sued for child support without knowing that the child biologically belongs to them. If you suspect that the child is not yours, it is vital that you seek genetic testing when the child is first born. You should never delay knowing the truth.
If you receive a complaint for paternity, whether from the prosecutor's office or an independent attorney, you should seek competent and experienced counsel immediately so that they can respond to the petition on your behalf and protect your rights. Failure to act in a timely manner could lead to a Default Judgment against you that will forever haunt and impede your pursuit of fairness in the matter. You have rights. If you are not the father, you do not have to pay. Be smart, protect yourself.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Gordon & Shaw, PLC.