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Establishing Paternity for Child Support and Custody Purposes

Establishing parentage, also known as paternity, is the legal process of creating a recognized relationship between a child and their parent when no legal relationship previously existed. It is an important step in determining child support obligations and custody rights. In Minnesota, there are different ways to establish parentage depending on the circumstances.

Mother’s marital status and parentage

Minnesota law recognizes parentage differently based on the mother’s marital status:

  • Married mother: If a child is conceived or born while the mother is married, Minnesota law automatically recognizes the mother and her spouse (regardless of gender) as the child’s legal parents.
  • Unmarried mother: If a child is conceived or born while the mother is not married, Minnesota law only recognizes the mother as the child’s legal parent.

How to establish paternity

There are three main methods to establish parentage in Minnesota:

  • Presumption of paternity: When a child is born to a married mother, her spouse (regardless of gender) is presumed to be the child’s legal parent. The spouse’s name will appear on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Recognition of parentage (ROP): If the mother’s spouse is not the child’s biological father and does not wish to be the legal parent, both the mother, her spouse, and the biological father can sign the Recognition of Parentage form and the Spouse’s Non-Parentage Statement.
  • Court order: If the parents are unmarried, either or both parents can ask the court to issue an order establishing the man as the child’s legal father.

Establishing parentage allows the custodial parent to request child support from the non-custodial parent, and the father will be able to seek custody or visitation with the child. The child will be able to receive benefits on their father’s behalf, including Social Security and health insurance. Finally, being legally recognized as the child’s father grants certain rights and responsibilities, including being listed on the child’s birth certificate and making decisions about the child’s upbringing.

The knowledgeable family lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN can help you establish paternity, seek custody or request child support. Call today to get started.

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