What are the legal steps for establishing paternity?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Family Law

Establishing paternity is key to determining a child’s biological father, but the process is far from simple. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the child’s birth and the parents’ relationship. Understanding how paternity works is crucial to upholding rights across the board.

Determining paternity

When a child is born to a married couple, the law assumes that the husband is the father. However, in cases where the parents are not married, courts establish paternity through other means:

  1. Voluntary acknowledgement of paternity: Voluntary acknowledgement is the simplest method to establish paternity. Both parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AoP) form, which is a legal document stating that the man is the child’s biological father.
  2. Court-ordered paternity: In less straightforward cases, couples may seek help from the court. Either parent can file a petition to establish paternity.
  3. Genetic testing: Genetic testing is usually the next step. The court then makes their decision based on the results of the test, which are highly accurate.

If the test confirms paternity, the court will issue an order establishing the man as the legal father. This includes responsibilities such as child support and potential custody or visitation rights.

Paternity law in Minnesota

In Minnesota, the legal process for establishing paternity follows similar steps, but with specific provisions unique to the state. For example, Minnesota law provides that if a child is born to unmarried parents, both parents can sign a Recognition of Parentage (RoP) form to establish paternity.

Questions around paternity can cause all sorts of problems, but following these steps can help you avoid a legal mess—and potential trauma down the road.