“Paternity” is the legal term that means the legal father of a child born in Minnesota. Once a man is determined to be the legal father of a child, that man has an obligation to financially support the child. Getting to the end of a paternity case, however, is not always so simple.
The simplest rule of paternity is this: a man whose wife gives birth during the marriage is conclusively presumed to be the child’s legal father. This rule applies even if the woman has the child by a man other than her husband. But what happens if the parents are not married to each other when the child is born?
Again, the easiest rule for unwed parents is the signing and submission a Recognition of Parentage form with the court. These forms are usually presented to the parents at the hospital where the baby has been born. Occasionally, the father will have second thoughts about whether he is the father, and he may need a judicial determination of paternity to reverse his decision to sign the ROP form. In other cases, an unwed mother may wish to look to her child’s father for support. Occasionally, the father will want to assert rights to parenting time. In these cases, the parents must turn to the courts for a legal determination of paternity.
In all such cases, the matter must be submitted to the court for resolution. With the advent of DNA sampling and testing, the matter of paternity can be resolved in a very short time. Obtaining a genetic test is not automatic. Minnesota courts do not provide the necessary forms, and the assistance of an attorney is usually required.
Some unwed parents are able to cooperate with each other in raising the child, but in many situations, disputes about child support, education, health care and the like will arise. In such cases one or both parents will be required to apply to the court for resolution. In these cases, the assistance of a capable family law attorney can be very helpful.