What Is Paternity Establishment?


Paternity establishment is the process of determining the legal father of a child born out of wedlock. There are many father relationships, such as stepfather, biological father, or custodial father. An alleged or putative father is a man thought to be the biological parent of a child with no legal father. However, the legal father is the man who is recognized by law as the male parent of a child.

Male student standing in front of a row of orange lockers.

Michigan Court Rule 3.903(A)(7) defines a "legal father" as:

  • A man married to the child's mother at any time from conception to the child's birth.

  • A man who legally adopts the child.

  • A man who has been determined to be the child's legal father in a judgment of paternity (court order).

  • A man judicially determined to have parental rights.

  • A man whose paternity is established by the completion and filing of an acknowledgment of parentage (now called the Affidavit of Parentage) in accordance with the provisions of the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act (Michigan Compiled Law Act 305 of 1996).

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