Parentage and the child support process

In many Michigan child support cases, parentage may need to be established either because it is in doubt or because the father contests paternity. Maternity is typically established via the mother's giving birth to the child. The child support and paternity rules vary from state to state, but generally, paternity is established in one of several ways. If the couple was married at the time of the birth of the child, there is a often a presumption that the husband is the child's father. If the parents are not married at the time the child is born, the father can choose to acknowledge paternity voluntarily.

In cases where paternity is in doubt or contested, generally a state government agency can be brought in to conduct a genetic test to determine paternity. If necessary, the court may order a party to submit to DNA testing. Then a paternity order is issued based on the results of DNA testing.

A person may be found in contempt of court if he or she fails to submit to an order for genetic testing. Once parentage is established, the child support process continues until a child support order is entered. The amounts of support payments are determined by the family court. There are also rules in place to help a parent collect child support from another who fails to meet payment obligations.

In a child support case where parentage is contested or back child support payments are owed, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney with experience in family law might draft and file the documents necessary to begin the process of establishing paternity or initiate an action to garnish the wages of a parent who doesn't pay child support. In a divorce case, an attorney might argue on the client's behalf during child support hearings or help to negotiate the terms of property division.

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