Austin, TX asked in Child Custody, Divorce and Family Law for Michigan

Q: what kind of lawyer would be best able to find and request custody documents from a divorce done back in the 1980s?

My father passed recently and I've come to find that he's not listed on my birth certificate. I need to prove my status as next of kin. I have gone through all Vital Records and public records for the courts (county and probate), for the county I was born in and the county I lived in and supposedly nothing is on file. I was born in Oakland County, MI and I lived in Wayne County, MI in the city of Detroit. My Father had full physical and legal custody of me since I was 4 or 5 years old, so there has to be something on file somewhere.

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: You don't necessarily need a lawyer for this, but where you'll probably want to look is the circuit court in the county your parents were divorced in. Ask for a copy of the "judgement of divorce".

Not to be funny or imply anything untoward, but I've seen it happen where what you were told is your original story isn't how it actually was. I've handled probate estates where people come to realize - usually after someone who knows the truth passes away - that who they thought was a biological parent really wasn't; or a couple who always were known to be married really weren't. There are many social reasons for that (e.g. stigma on out-of-wedlock children and cohabitation). Remember: your parents came up in different times.

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