Paternity and Adoption Issues

Establishing Paternity in Adoption Cases: Parental Rights

If a putative father receives notice that an adoption is pending for a child he believes to be his and the mother and/or adoptive parents are seeking to have his parental rights terminated, he may attempt to establish his paternity through the Michigan Adoption Code found in MCL 710.21 et. seq.

In such a situation, the putative father may file an adoption action of his own in the proceeding. By filing this action, the adoption proceedings of either the mother or the adoptive parents will be stayed, and the father will be afforded an opportunity to establish his paternity.

For a putative father to legitimize a child and establish paternity, the father must show that he has established a custodial relationship with the child, or that he has provided regular and substantial support to the child or the mother for ninety (90) days prior to the termination hearing. The father must also assert that the child’s best interests would be served by an award of custody to him (the father).

If, following a hearing, the Court determines that it would be in the best interests of the child for the father to be awarded custody, the adoption preceding will cease, and the child will be legitimized with paternity established with the father. This will allow him to exercise the parental rights that would have been terminated with adoption.

Adoption: Establishing Paternity Prior to the Child’s Birth

Prior to the birth of a child, a father can file a verified Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity if he believes the child will be placed for adoption without his consent. A putative father who files such a Notice is presumed to be the father unless contested by the child’s mother.