Warren, MI asked in Contracts and Family Law for Michigan

Q: My son signed over right of his baby to girlfriend when she gave birth. Is this a binding contract?

My son has a job. No addictions. His girlfriend holds this over him and often I ( grandma can't see my grandson because she controls all).

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

A: Depends on what you mean by "signing over rights". Typically the only thing that's signed between unwed parents is an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). If your son signed such a document, he is acknowledging paternity - that's it. By default, the mother has custody, and no parenting time is ordered until the father asks the court - which can change and be litigated until the child is 18.

By signing the AOP, your son made himself what's called the "legal father". Rather than signing over rights, he actually is preserving his rights. BUT, if he wants custody or parenting time, HE needs to take further legal action; it will not happen automatically.

The reason for this is because issues of the family is largely a private matter. Courts do not get involved unless one of the parents asks the court to get involved, an abusive or neglectful situation arises involving CPS or police involvement, or in cases of state funding, the state seeks child support.

YOUR rights are only recognized through your son. I would encourage him to establish custody and parenting time for himself now. All too often, men in particular let time pass and are content or hoping the mother let them spend time with the child whenever they want. Then when things hit the fan down the road - usually when the mother wants to move or otherwise says "no more", only then does the guy want to come to court and say "this is everything I've done for the last several years". But to the extent the mother doesn't agree, the man is left with nothing on paper to prove any of it, and the court assuming the father hasn't been around.

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