When parents have children outside of marriage, it is important for both the mother and father to establish legal rights. When a parent decides to obtain legal rights to a child born out of wedlock, a petition for paternity or a petition for "filiation" is filed in the circuit court in the county where the child resides. There are times when parents are unsure who fathered a child, and the law affords the ability to obtain DNA testing as part of the case. Either a father or a mother may initiate the legal action.

The attorneys in this firm handle paternity matters with compassion. This is because we often find that parents in these situations do not know their rights and are emotionally distraught. In some cases, other family members pressure young parents into making decisions not necessarily in the parent's or the child's best interest. All paternity matters necessitate determinations of custody, parenting schedules and child support.

In most cases, we believe, as does Michigan law, that it is important for each child to have the benefit of two caring parents, no matter what the situation. Nevertheless we recognize that every paternity matter is unique and needs the sensitivity, understanding and expertise on the part of the attorney. Michigan law requires judges to consider children in this situation to be the most important part of any decision. The court is therefore required to review the best interest factors of the Michigan Child Custody Act in the same manner as when children are involved in a divorce matter.

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