How To File For Custody In Michigan

Who Can file a Child Custody Case in Michigan?


Sometimes a person other than a parent can file a custody case, such as a grandparent or legal guardian. This article talks only about the most common type of custody case: between the child’s parents. If you are a guardian or non-parent relative who wants to file for custody, contact The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC for a free consultation. You can call our office phone, cell phone, or send us an email.


How to File a Custody case in Michigan


Filing a custody case is one way to get a custody order. If you already have a certain type of family court case that involves your child (for example, a support case or a paternity case), you may need to file a motion regarding custody in that case instead. Or if you are married to the other parent, a divorce or separate maintenance case may be a better option for you, depending on the circumstances.


You Can File a Custody Case If You and the Other Parent Are Not Married and Have an Affidavit of Parentage


If you and the other parent signed and filed an Affidavit of Parentage to establish paternity and you don’t already have a court case regarding , you can file a custody case.

File your case in the Michigan county where your child lives.


You Can File a Custody Case If You Are Married to the Other Parent, but You Are Not Filing for Divorce or Separate Maintenance


Decisions about custody, parenting time, and child support between married parents are usually made in a divorce case. If you are married, living separately, and don’t want to file for divorce, you can file a custody case. You can read more on our blog about filing for divorce in Michigan.


Filing For Separate Maintenance


Another option is to file for separate maintenance. Filing for a change of custody is complicated and it is always recommended to contact a qualified attorney. Attorneys at The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC specialize in family law matters in both Michigan and Indiana. Contact us by phone or send us an email today!


When You CAN’T File a Custody Case


In some situations, you can’t file a custody case. You can’t file a custody case if you haven’t established paternity of your child. Or if you have an existing court case involving your child, you may need to file a motion for custody in that case instead of a complaint to start a custody case.


If Paternity Has Not Been Established


A father’s legal paternity must be established before you can file a custody case.


To establish paternity, the mother and father can sign and file a sworn statement called an Affidavit of Parentage. This is the simplest way to establish paternity. No DNA tests or court orders are needed.


If there is any doubt about paternity, get a paternity test before you sign the affidavit. When you sign the Affidavit of Parentage, you waive your right to a paternity test. An Affidavit of Parentage often gets signed by the parents when their child is born, but it can be done any time during the child’s life.


However, an Affidavit of Parentage cannot be used to establish paternity if the mother was married to another man at the time of conception or birth, unless a judge has determined the husband is not the father.


The Affidavit of Parentage must be signed in front of a notary public or a qualified witness. A notary can usually be found at a bank. After the Affidavit of Parentage is filed with the Central Paternity Registry, the father has parental rights. When there is an Affidavit of Parentage in place, Michigan law gives initial custody to the mother until either parent starts a custody case.


Once the Affidavit of Parentage is filed, either parent can file a custody case asking the court for an order deciding custody, parenting time, and child support.


Signing the Affidavit of Parentage is voluntary. If either parent does not agree to sign it, it cannot be used to establish paternity. In that situation, the mother, father, or prosecuting attorney can file a paternity case.


What if the parties don’t agree?


If the parties don’t agree about the child’s paternity, the court will order DNA tests. If DNA tests show the alleged father is the biological father, the judge will sign an Order of Filiation. An Order of Filiation establishes paternity, making the alleged father the legal father. Custody, parenting time, and child support decisions would then be made in the paternity case. 


What If There Is Already an Existing Child Support or Paternity Case?


If there is an existing Michigan paternity or child support case for your child, custody and parenting time decisions should be made in that case. Either parent can file a Motion Regarding Custody in the existing case to get or change a custody order.

Your situation is more complicated if you have a paternity or child support case from another state. If you are in this situation, talk to a lawyer about your options.


Contact A Qualified Attorney Now!


If you think you might have a case, it is crucial you contact a qualified attorney right away. We understand litigation is often daunting to those who are not attorneys. but rest assured, we will be here for you all throughout the process. No one fights harder for their clients then attorneys of The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC.


Contact Us


The initial consultation is FREE! So contact us right away.


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We can arrange a virtual appointment, in-person appointment at our office, or even travel to your home to meet you and your family.


Contact The Lockwood Legal Group for a free consultation today! Call US or send us an email.


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