Paternity is used to refer to the legal father of a child. Under Minnesota law, a child of unmarried parents does not have a legal father until the proper legal steps are taken to establish the child's legal father or paternity. Being named on the child's birth certificate alone is not considered enough to establish the legal father or the legal rights and responsibilities that accompany being the legal father of a child. Once the paternity of a child is determined, the legal father has the responsibility to pay child support and can request child custody, visitation rights and parenting time.
There are different methods for establishing who is the legal father of a child in Minnesota. One method is for the unmarried father of the child to sign and file a Recognition of Parentage. Paternity can also be determined by court order through the legal process. The legal process is an option for an unmarried parent to establish paternity for the purposes of a child support order or child custody agreement.
Paternity can be determined through court-ordered genetic tasting or if the mother of the child and putative father agree to genetic testing. If the mother of the child is seeking genetic testing to establish paternity, she must establish that there is a reasonable possibility that the putative father is the biological father of the child. When a child is born to married parents, the paternity of the child is presumed to be the woman's husband. If another man is the father, it may be necessary to determine paternity and for the biological father to be determined the legal father.
Paternity issues can be sensitive for families but they are also important for children and their parents. Because of the significant legal and other impacts of paternity, it is important for families to be familiar with how to determine paternity in Minnesota.
Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Paternity," Accessed Feb. 28, 2016