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Genetic testing and establishing paternity in Minnesota

Children born in Minnesota deserve to know who both their parents are, even if they are only being raised by one parent. While establishing parentage when a couple is married is easy, as it is assumed the husband is the child's father, for unmarried couples, parentage must be established to name a man as the child's legal father.

Sometimes, unmarried parents are in agreement as to who is the child's biological father, and will sign and file a Recognition of Parentage to establish the man as the child's legal father. However, sometimes, there are uncertainties as to the identity of the child's biological father. One or both parties may want proof that the man is the child's biological father, which can be done via genetic testing.

In Minnesota, all county child support offices can provide genetic testing, although parents can choose to obtain genetic testing privately, if they want. Genetic testing can be done via a cheek swab, where DNA is collected from the inner side of the person's cheek.

It may take weeks to get the test results. Testing can be done any time after the child has been born. By comparing the genetic test samples of both the mother and man to the genetic test sample of the child, it can be determined that the man is the child's biological parent with more than 99 percent probability.

Either parent can pay for the genetic test on his or her own, or if it is done at a county child support office via a designated lab, the county will pay for the genetic test, although it may ask that the legal father reimburse it for the genetic testing costs. Once, it is determined who the child's biological father is, the parents can sign a Recognition of Parentage or can seek a court order to establish legal fatherhood.

In the end, establishing parentage and through that legal fatherhood is a necessary step if an unmarried mother wants to then pursue child support, or if an unmarried father wants to pursue child custody or visitation rights. But, since establishing parentage confers upon the father certain legal rights and responsibilities, those with questions about what these might be may want to first consult with an attorney, prior to undergoing a genetic test.

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