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When a case is referred for establishment services to the Muskegon County Family Court, you will be contacted by a staff member to discuss how we will proceed with your case. Each case is different, and may require different actions to move forward. Generally, establishment of a case will include attending meetings at the Family Court, signing court documents, and in rare cases, appearing in front of a judge. In order to reduce the amount of visits you will need to make at the Family Court, please bring all documents that Family Court staff ask you to bring.
This may include items like your child's birth certificate, a copy of any prior acknowledgment of paternity, documents related to any marriages or divorces that you have been a party to, a government issued I.D., income information, and information regarding any parenting time arrangements you may have with the other parent.
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If you are not receiving public assistance and would like to start a case, you must submit an application for services. You can submit an application online. You can contact the Michigan Office of Child Support at 866-540-0008 if you have questions regarding your application.
If you are receiving public assistance, a case will be automatically started for you. You will receive a letter in mail with further instructions.
Once the case is filed, Family Court staff will attempt to contact the other parent by phone. Additionally, an appointment letter will be sent to the other parent. At the appointment, a final order may be signed if both you and the other parent agree on the terms of the order. If an agreement cannot be reached, a hearing may be scheduled before a judge.
If the parent who is receiving public benefits for the child(ren) does not help the Family Court in establishing a case, the Family Court will notify the public assistance benefits worker of the situation. This may result in a reduction or termination of public assistance benefits.
If the other parent to the case does not participate with the Family Court, an order can still be granted and the Friend of the Court will then start to enforce the order.
When paternity has not been determined, DNA testing can be requested by either parent, or by the court. All parties will be notified of the date and time of the appointment to gather DNA samples. The appointment will be at the Family Court, and DNA samples are taken by swabbing the inside of each person's cheek.
DNA results are usually sent back to the Family Court within two weeks. Copies of the results are mailed to each party. If the results show that the man is not the biological father, the case will be dismissed. If a party is ordered to appear for DNA testing and does not, the Court may enter an order compelling that party to appear, or an order establishing paternity by default.
There is a cost for DNA testing, but if completed through a child support case, the cost is significantly lower. Only DNA tests performed by Family Court staff or completed by an approved laboratory will be used to establish paternity. A "home" DNA test cannot be used in court to establish legal paternity.
Child support is determined using the Michigan Child Support formula, which is required by state law. Calculations are based on the net monthly income of both parties and consider factors such as other children in the home. A child support order may include medical support costs, child care costs and if the parties agree, custody and parenting time provisions. You can estimate what your child support order may be online.
Please note that this is an estimate, and your actual order may be different depending on the information provided to the Family Court. The Family Court is required to complete the calculation in order to ensure accuracy.
Michigan law states that if a mother is married at the time her child is conceived or born, her husband is the legal father of the child. If the husband is not the biological father of the child, the parties must file an action with the court to make a determination that the husband is not the legal father. Family Court staff cannot represent any party in this type of action, and will continue to seek support with the legal father as a party until a court determines otherwise.
View the Michigan Legal Help website for more information on the revocation of paternity.
If you and the other parent do not agree on the issues of custody or parenting time, the Family Court's Establishment Division will note represent you in resolving the dispute. You will need to seek a private attorney at that time.