Affidavits of Parentage: What Every Unmarried Father in Michigan Needs to Know
Unmarried fathers are presented with unique legal challenges. They are generally presented with an Affidavit of Parentage at the hospital after a child is born and told to sign it without any explanation. Fathers regularly sign the Affidavit without understanding it or how signing it affects their rights. As a result, many unmarried fathers leave the hospital with little or no understanding of what their rights are as fathers and what they need to do to assert those rights. Similarly, fathers not present at the birth of a child often do not know what they need to do to protect their rights.
The Affidavit of Parentage is a form signed by both parents that acknowledges that the parents are the natural parents of the child. By signing the Affidavit, the parents affirm their parentage of the child under penalty of perjury. Therefore, a father who is not 100% certain that he is the natural father of the child should not sign the form without further investigation or seeking legal advice.
The Current State of Marriage and Family in the United States:
Times have certainly changed over the last few decades. A study performed by the Pew Research Center, in concert with Time Magazine, outlines the drastic changes in the way Americans view marriage and family. The Time Magazine article "Marriage: What's It Good For?" outlines the findings derived from a survey of 2,691 adults around the United States in 2008. The following are some of the interesting statistics:
- 40% of Americans think that marriage is obsolete (versus 28% in 1978). However, more than 75% of the respondents felt that marriage was best for raising children.
- In 1960, 72% of adults were married. In 2008, only 52% were married.
- College graduates are more likely to marry (64%) than individuals who do not have higher education (48%).
- Compared to fifty years ago, Americans are more likely to marry someone who has similar socioeconomic and educational achievements.
- College graduates are less likely to divorce than individuals who do not have higher education.
- In 1960, 87% of children were living with married parents. In 2008, only 64% of children are living with married parents.
- A child living with cohabitating, unmarried parents in Sweden is less likely to see their parents split up than a child living with married parents in the United States.
- 41% of children were born to unmarried mothers in 2008 (please refer to the blog concerning Affidavits of Parentage dated November 30, 2010). This is eight times more than fifty years ago.
- Only 6% of children have parents who are cohabitating outside of marriage.
- 21% of children whose parents are separated/divorced will be exposed to two live-in partners in their mothers' homes by the time they are 15 years old. An additional 8% will see three or more live-in partners during the same time period.
For more information please view the following link: http://pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families/
Custody Support Groups
Custody Support Groups
Divorce can be a difficult time especially when children are involved. There are many references out there trying to help. An interesting one came across my desk today. Up to Parents, www.uptoparents.org, is a site that focuses on trying to get parents to move toward cooperating when making parenting time decisions. While we do not endorse all of their views the site is worth checking out.
Michigan law does not adequately account for the fact that in many families both parents are a significant care providers. Under its current rules, Judges with or without the Friend of the Court have broad discretion to make temporary custody decisions without any investigation or evidentiary hearing. Frequently both parents contend that they are principal care givers. Because Judges are not issued crystal balls they make decisions with very little information that are influenced by their own bias. All to often this means that dad is demoted to a second class parent and children loose significant access to an important care giver. While dad may have the opportunity to have a trial on custody months later, he faces a significant legal bill and a mother with a distinct advantage because she has had primary custody while waiting for custody, if he wants to try.