Why Paternity Is Important
Establishing paternity refers to the legal process involved in determining who a child's biological father is and establishing the rights, duties, and obligations of the father to the child. Below are some reasons why establishing paternity is important to the child, the child's mother, and the child's father.
To the child:
- Establishes a relationship with the mother and father
- Gains access to personal information such as medical history and health risks
- Receives shelter, financial assistance, and support from the father
- Gains the right to inherit the father's estate
- Learns about the family history
- Gains access to medical insurance and other benefits
- Gains the right to receive Social Security and veterans’ benefits, if available
- Gains the right to sue for the death of or harm to the father
To the mother:
- Shares custody with the father
- Shares parental responsibilities with the father
- Shares the costs of raising their child
- Establishes child support payments with the father
- Allows for parenting time or visitation schedules
To the father:
- Gains legal rights to their child
- Is recognized as the child's legal father
- Establishes a cordial relationship with the child
- Gains the ability to seek custody or parenting time
- Participates in their child's life
- Gains ability to put the child on his dental and medical insurance
- Shows how much they care for their child
Until paternity is established in Minnesota, the father has no legal rights or responsibilities to the child. An experienced attorney can evaluate your unique situation and walk you through the process of establishing parentage.
Establishing Paternity in Minnesota
In the state of Minnesota, paternity can be established either "voluntarily" or "involuntarily."
Paternity can be established voluntarily when the mother and father agree that the father is, in fact, the child's biological father. For paternity to be established and effective, both the father and mother must:
- Sign the "Recognition of Parentage Form" before a notary public.
- File the form with the Minnesota Department of Health.
Conversely, paternity can be established involuntarily through a court proceeding. To establish paternity involuntarily, the petitioner (person seeking to establish paternity) must file a petition in the local district court where the defendant (other parent) or child lives.
If the alleged father denies that the child belongs to him, the court may order DNA testing. An expert will swap the inside of the mother’s, child’s, and father's cheeks and send this to the laboratory for analysis. If the result of the DNA testing shows that he is the father, the court will issue an "order of filiation." This confirms the biological father as the "legal" father.
A paternity dispute can be described as a disagreement regarding the identity of a child's father. Paternity disputes may fall into any of the following categories:
- Disputes involving a presumed father
- Disputes involving an equitable father
- Disputes involving an unwed father
- Disputes regarding father's responsibility for paying child support
- Disputes regarding father's rights for child custody and visitation
Waiting until there is a paternity dispute before acknowledging paternity could make the entire process of establishing parentage even more complicated. Thankfully, an experienced attorney can enlighten you about your possible options and fight to protect your rights and best interests.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Paternity dispute cases in Minnesota typically involve a lot of complex procedures and are often fiercely contested. If you believe you're a child's biological father and want to establish custody rights, or if you're the mother of a child trying to determine your child's biological father, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is paramount to protect your paternity rights and for proper guidance.
At Michael Fink Law, PLLC, I have the resources and experience to advise and guide clients in legal matters of divorce, paternity, and child custody and support. Using my knowledge of the laws addressing paternity in family law cases, I can guide you through the decision-making process of establishing parentage.
As your legal counsel, I will work meticulously with all parties involved to help negotiate a fair parenting plan and custody agreement. I can also provide you with the reliable representation you need to file a paternity action with the Minnesota court. I will fight compassionately on your side to protect your legal rights, your family's best interest, and your child's future.