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“Affidavit of Parentage”

by Feb 11, 2019


When a child is born in Michigan, generally in an institutional setting, the parents are immediately asked to sign an Affidavit of Parentage.  This is usually presented in a hospital setting when the parents are present.  Many unmarried parents are confused as to who has custody of a minor child when an Affidavit of Parentage has been signed.  Sometimes a mother may believe that the initial custody determination has been made in her favor.  In other cases, a father may believe the he has equal rights upon signing the Affidavit of Parentage.

The specific language in the Affidavit, however, states that the mother has initial custody of the child, both physical and legal custody.  This determination of custody, however, is not binding when the parties have a dispute that requires court intervention.  The parents have equal custodial rights until the court makes a custody decision, in such circumstances.  In other words, this initial grant of custody to the mother does not by itself affect the rights of the parents in a proceeding to seek a court order for custody or parenting time.  In such a dispute, the parent who initially lacks custody (which is usually the father), is not required to demonstrate the generally higher burden of proof in a custody dispute. Both parties are on equal footing under the law.  This is the status in the event there is a dispute.

In the event that a police agency is contacted, rather than a court, about a custody dispute, law enforcement generally relies on the Affidavit of Parentage to establish the mother’s custody of the child unless they are presented with a court order or written agreement signed by the parties stating some other arrangement has either been ordered or agreed upon. 

If you have any questions regarding child custody in your family situation, please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC at (616) 975-9951 to speak to one of our Grand Rapids Family Law Attorneys.  We are here to help.

– Curtis R. Witte  /  February 11, 2019


While this posting originates from a law office, none of the contents should, in any way, be considered legal advice. If you have not signed a retention letter describing the legal services to be provided and the amount to be paid for such services, you are not a client of this firm.

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