If you're a married father, the children of your wife are automatically considered to be yours under Michigan law. No additional paperwork is required to establish your rights as a father. However, if you're an unmarried dad, you need to step forward and claim your parental rights.
Depending on the nature and friendliness of your relationship with the mother of your children, this could be easy or difficult. Here are a few steps you can take to establish your parental rights in the most peaceful way possible. These steps are conversation points and issues on which you and your ex need to agree.
- Talk with your ex about your desire to have visitation rights with your child before your baby is born.
- Create a plan for being contacted when your ex goes into labor.
- Find out if you can be present during the birth.
- Make sure that you and you ex sign the necessary paperwork to establish paternity at the hospital.
- Can you stop by the house unannounced after your ex is released from the hospital, or should you call first? Establish protocol for visiting your baby after he or she comes home.
- Decide how long it's appropriate to come for visits, and decide how often those visits should be made.
- Determine if there are specific restrictions or requirements for your visits to your baby.
- Brainstorm strategies to make sure that your visits are easy for you and your former partner.
Ultimately, the idea is to make sure that your presence and visits are beneficial for everyone.
If you and your ex have a good relationship, you might not need to get your formal child visitation orders through the court. A lawyer can give you advice about filing, but in most cases, it's best for newborn babies to have both parents involved in their lives from the beginning.
Source: The Spruce, "How to File for Visitation Rights as a New Dad," Jennifer Wolf, accessed Nov. 08, 2017