The Affidavit of Parentage: More than Just Getting your Name on the Birth Certificate
Article by Erika Salerno
Most adults can recall the sing-song rhyme our adolescent peers used to tease us with when we experienced our first crush: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Emily in the baby carriage.” The rhyme is completely outdated. The Pew Research Center recently found that about forty percent of unmarried adults believe that marriage is obsolete. While the marriage rate is declining, unmarried cohabitation is on the rise, and almost half of cohabitating households include children. However, the child custody laws have not really caught up to this new trend. Most fathers focus on getting their name on the birth certificate as a means to establish their parental rights. However, the required paperwork at the hospital (Affidavit of Parentage) required to be signed to list the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate for a child born to unmarried parents, has important legal consequences. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you sign:
- Waiving Your Right to Genetic Testing. When you sign the Affidavit of Parentage, both parents waive their right to genetic tests to confirm whether the man is the biological father of the child. As a result, if you are uncertain about whether or not you are the father of the child, you should file with the family court to request genetic testing. If the genetic testing establishes the father, your name can be added to the birth certificate.
In addition, if you sign the Affidavit of Parentage, and later find evidence that you did so in error, your ability to identify the genetic father, and transfer responsibility and obligation for support, and the raising of the child is significantly limited.
Initial Custody. The Affidavit of Parentage in Michigan actually grants initial custody of the child to the mother. As a result, the father really does not have any legal rights to custody or parenting time with the child, without further court proceedings.
- Relocation. Because the Affidavit of Parentage in Michigan establishes that the mother has initial custody, she may be able to relocate to another state with little to no court intervention, unless the father files a motion to establish his legal rights to custody and parenting time.
Parenting is a privilege, and privileges come with tremendous responsibilities and obligations. Make sure that you understand your legal rights and how to exercise them before the birth of your child. Just because the mother and father are not married, does not mean one or both parents should be denied the privileges of parenthood.
Posted on February 25, 2016
Tagged as Family Law