Paternity/Child Support Services
The Cheboygan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office holds the position of Child Support Specialist. That position is funded by the State of Michigan and Cheboygan County. The position is responsible for establishing paternity, support and custody in situations where parents receive state financial assistance. If you have any questions, you may contact, Deanna L. Hart at 231-627-8411 ore-mail or contact your case worker at Department of Human Services [DHS].
Throughout the following paragraphs we will clarify the paternity establishment process and have attached helpful links and resources, both locally and statewide:
State of Michigan – Department of Human Services – Child Support
Understanding Child Support – A Handbook for Parents
What Every Parent Should Know About Establishing Paternity
See our Community Presentations & Resources for additional services and/or links.
Michigan Department of Human Services requires you to complete the following application to apply for services. The form cannot be filled out online, you must be able to print, complete the form then mail it to:
Michigan Office of Child Support
Central Functions Unit
P.O. Box 30744
Lansing, MI 48909
FORM 1201 to Apply for Services
**INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING ONLINE FORMS**
What is the Prosecutor’s role in establishing paternity in Michigan?
The case starts when a single parent with a minor child begins receiving state benefits through the Department of Human Services [DHS]. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office receives a referral from the DHS. The Child Support Specialist will review the referral and interview the parent[s]. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will file a complaint in Circuit Court. The non-custodial parent is served with a copy of the complaint and given a hearing date. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will arrange for DNA testing from the parties. If paternity is established, the Prosecuting Attorney will prepare the Order for Paternity that is signed by the Judge.
Who do I contact at the Cheboygan County Prosecutor’s office?
Our Paternity and Child Support Specialist is Deanna L. Hart. Call her at (231)-627-8411
Why is it important to establish paternity?
The parents and the child have the right to have a parent-child relationship. Establishing paternity gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Other reasons include:
- Identity: It is important to know who we are. Children who know both parents develop a sense of “belonging”. Children may also benefit by knowing their family’s biological, cultural, and medical history.
- Money: The law requires both parents to support their children, even if the pregnancy was unplanned. Children supported by just one parent often do not have enough money to meet their needs.
- Benefits: The child has the right to its parents’ benefits (social security, insurance, inheritance, veterans’, etc.).
- Medical: The child may need a complete medical history from the families of both parents, including inherited health problems.
How do I start a paternity case?
In many cases, when the custodial parent or a child’s legal guardian receives state assistance for the child (e.g., birthing expenses, medicaid, food stamps, etc.), the Department of Human Services will send a referral to the Child Support Specialist in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The Child Support Specialist is responsible to establish paternity and a support order, even if the custodial parent has not requested child support. The support money is used to reimburse the state for the coverage and services it spends on the child.
You must first contact the Michigan Department of Human Services’ Support Specialist at 1-866-661-0005 to request or apply for services provided by our office. The Support Specialist will assist you with the application. If necessary, they will attempt to locate the absent parent for you. Your case will then be referred to the Family Support Division in the Prosecutor’s Office and a case will be opened.
Our Paternity and Child Support Specialist is Deanna L. Hart. Call her at (231) 627-8411 or (231) 627-8450 ext. 411.
After your case is opened, you will be mailed an appointment letter and a questionnaire. You will be asked to fill out all the information requested and bring it to the office on your appointment day. The information will be used to file a lawsuit against the non-custodial parent so it is very important that all information supplied is complete and correct. A complaint will be prepared and your case will be filed with the court.
How is legal paternity established?
- If the mother is married when the baby is born, her husband is considered by law to be the father, unless a court says otherwise.
- A male who is separated from his wife, but not divorced, is deemed to be the child’s legal father – even if he is not the child’s biological father. A voluntary Affidavit of Parentage is not allowed unless a court has already determined that the husband is not the biological father.
- If the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, paternity can be established by (a) both parents signing a voluntary Affidavit of Parentage that is filed with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of the State Registrar, or (b) a judge can declare that a man is the legal father after a hearing or default.
What happens with the absent parent?
Once a referral is received and a complaint is filed with the court, the Child Support Specialist will make contact with the absent parent and may schedule an appointment for them to come to our office. There will be a determination if the case can be resolved or if it needs to go to hearing in front of the Judge. In the end, a final Order resolving the case will be signed by the Judge.
If the absent parent lives far away or out of state, we will send them notice of the case by certified mail. They may then contact us by telephone or mail. At times, it is necessary to arrange for papers to be served by an outside agency if the absent parent does not respond. Once the papers are served on the absent parent, the other party has a little less than a month to respond. If not, we will ask the Judge to enter a “default order” against the parent to establish paternity and/or child support. Payments will then be collected and obligations enforced by the Friend of the Court (FOC).
Can the Affidavit of Parentage be filed by mail?
Yes. The completed Affidavit of Parentage form can be mailed to:
Central Paternity Registry
Vital Records & Health Data Development
Michigan Department of Community Health
P.O. Box 30691
3423 North M.L. King Blvd.
Lansing, MI 48909
Is there a fee for filing the Affidavit of Parentage?
No. However, certified copies of the Affidavit of Parentage are available from the Central Registry for $13.00 (additional copies are $4.00 each).
What if the father refuses to acknowledge paternity?
The mother (or the Michigan Department of Human Services, if the child is receiving public assistance such as Aid to Dependent Children) may bring a paternity suit to have the matter resolved in court. The alleged father is entitled to a hearing in Circuit Court to prove whether he is the father. [NOTE: DHS used to be called the Family Independence Agency, or “FIA”, and before that was called the Department of Social Services, or “DSS”.]
What if the mother is not sure who her child’s father is?
The mother should call a DHS Support Specialist, toll-free at (866) 661-0005, who will help her to identify and locate (if necessary) the father free of charge. The mother does not have to be on public assistance to seek help from a DHS Support Specialist.
When is a DNA test necessary? How is a paternity DNA/blood test done?
A DNA/blood test is needed when the alleged father denies or questions paternity. If DNA testing is ordered by the Circuit Court, the mother, child and alleged father will be scheduled for a joint sample collection in the area. (In Cheboygan County, actual blood draws are not taken, instead, painless Q-Tip®-like swabs are rubbed inside the mouth, which painlessly capture skin cells containing DNA.) The samples are taken from the mother, child and alleged father and are tested at a laboratory. The tests compare many different and complex details of the child’s blood with similar details in the mother’s and alleged father’s blood.
What does paternity testing show?
The tests can accurately show that a man is not the father of the child, or a percentage of likelihood that he is the father (e.g., 99.48% probability). If the results show that the alleged father is not the biological father, the case is dismissed. Because of its accuracy, the DNA/blood test result generally settles the issue, so contested paternity trials are rare.
Who pays for the DNA tests?
The court will decide who pays. In many case, the alleged father is ordered to pay if he is not excluded on the DNA test results.
What happens if the mother or father is not 18?
In Michigan, the mother’s or father’s age is irrelevant.
How long after the child is born can paternity be established?
Both Michigan and federal laws permit paternity actions to be started anytime before the child reaches the age of 18. But, you should not wait to establish paternity. Your child has the right to expect regular and continued emotional and financial support from both parents. Give your child the best possible chance in life by getting paternity established now!
When can the father’s name be put on the birth certificate?
If the mother is married, her husband’s name will be recorded on the birth certificate. In other circumstances:
- if the mother has been divorced or widowed for less than ten months, her husband at the time of conception will be named on the birth certificate, or
- if the mother was not married at the time of conception or birth, the father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate if an Affidavit of Parentage has been signed and notarized.
Birth certificates are not automatically changed when an Affidavit of Parentage is filed, unless the change is made at the birth hospital before the birth has been registered. Changes to registered birth records can be requested based upon a properly completed Affidavit of Parentage, but the birth record correction must be requested on an Application to Correct a Certificate of Birth. These forms are available at the County Clerk’s office or the Office of the State Registrar. A birth certificate can be changed to reflect the father listed on this Affidavit if no other man is recorded on the birth certificate as the child’s father. Should a conflict exist, a court determination of paternity may become necessary.
If the parents decide to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, what other steps must be taken?
Besides filing the notarized Affidavit of Parentage with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of the State Registrar, the parents should try to agree on issues of child support, parenting time (“visitation”) and custody. If the parents cannot agree, then they must get a court order.
What is a “support order”?
A support order means any order entered by the Circuit Court which requires the payment of money for child support, spousal support (alimony), medical, dental and other health care expenses, child care expenses, and educational expenses.
What is in a support order?
The final court Order will include a child support obligation, to be paid by income withholding (usually expressed in “$____/month”), a child care contribution, responsibility for medical insurance or uninsured medical expenses, the responsibility to report certain changes in circumstances or coverage to the Friend of the Court, reimbursement for pregnancy and/or childbirth expenses and, if the parties agree, a provision for custody and parenting time.
Once the support order has been entered, if the parents get back together and decide to end the family support order, they must contact their private lawyer or the Friend of the Court to stop the support order. It is not sufficient to just notify a DHS case worker.
How is child support determined?
Child support is set by a formula in the Michigan Child Support Guidelines. This formula considers both parents’ income, the number of children and their custodial arrangements, other child support payments, etc. (But every-day financial responsibilities like rent/mortgages, utilities, credit card debts, etc. are not factored in.) The baby’s medical costs may also be included in the child support order.
Will the Prosecutor help me collect child support?
No. The Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing payment orders and collecting delinquencies (although you may also hire a private attorney to file an enforcement action). Child support is generally collected through income-withholding from the parent’s paycheck. If the person is self- or un-employed, payment must be made personally.
What if the parent responsible for paying lives outside Michigan?
We can file a case for paternity and/or child support even if the absent parent lives in another state. In some cases, when that party is a former Michigan resident or other factors exist, we may still be able to file a case in our county.
If there are not sufficient ties to the state of Michigan, an action is filed under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The papers are prepared in our office, filed with our court and forwarded to the state where the absent parent resides. The final court Order must be obtained in the other state. Although we process interstate cases right away, we cannot control the time it takes another state to obtain an Order. We will monitor the other state’s efforts on a regular basis and contact you if additional information is required.
I cannot find the non-paying parent. Are there free Internet sites that may assist my search?
Yes! The Michigan Department of Human Services’ web site has a good list of parent locator services.
Custody and Parenting Time
Are there different kinds of custody?
Yes. The most common types of custody are:
- Joint Custody: the child lives with one parent part of the time and with the other parent part of the time and/or parents both share in making decisions on important issues dealing with the child]
- Legal custody: Refers to the responsibility for making major decisions affecting the child’s welfare, and legal custodians are entitled to make the major decisions regarding the health, education and religious upbringing of the child.
- Physical Custody: An order designating one parent as primary residential parent constitutes an order regarding physical custody as opposed to an order regarding parenting time. Physical custody involves the child’s residential placement, whereas parenting time is what is traditionally thought of as visitation.
- Sole Custody: the child lives with one parent and that parent is responsible for making decisions on important issues dealing with the child.
What is the Prosecutor’s role in issues of custody and parenting time (“visitation”)?
After a case is filed in Circuit Court and a temporary support order is signed by the Judge, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office may refer the matter to the Friend of the Court’s office for a formal recommendation on custody, support and parenting time (“visitation”). The Prosecuting Attorney does not appear in court on custody or parenting time (“visitation”) issues or disputes. If you need help because you are being denied parenting time, you may contact the Friend of the Court for assistance once a judgment has been issued by a Circuit Court Judge, or you may seek the assistance of a private attorney who specializes in family law.