Dakota County Paternity Attorney

imageDetermining the father of a child is a separate legal case on its own. Typically, a paternity case is necessary if no formal recognition of parentage (ROP) form was signed by both parents, the parents were not married when the child was born or there are other circumstances where more than one individual might be the biological father.

A legal adjudication of paternity is required before the mother or a public entity entitled to reimbursement for payment of public benefits can seek an order for child support. In Minnesota, a court order can address only child support and be silent as to custody and parenting time. This circumstance occurs most frequently when the county is seeking reimbursements for benefits paid on behalf of a child. The court may order a father to pay for some of the costs of childbirth and some past child support at the time that paternity is established.

Until there is an order establishing custody and parenting time, Minnesota law presumes that the mother has sole legal and sole physical custody. The first order determining a child's custody and parenting time by statute is governed by the best interests of the child standard. Subsequent requests for changes to custody and parenting are typically governed by the standard for post-decree modifications.

Other important reasons to adjudicate paternity are to establish the right of a child to be a dependent on health insurance coverage, to inherit from the father, to receive Social Security benefits based on the father's account and the right to sue for a father's wrongful death.

There are a number of ways to obtain a legal adjudication of paternity. The most common is a recognition of parentage (ROP) form. This form is usually available to sign at the hospital at the time of a child is born. Once it is completed and signed by both parents before a notary public, it must be filed with the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services. An ROP has the legal effect of a court order determining the biological father.

If an ROP is not signed at the time of birth, the court may establish paternity through a process known as judicial adjudication. This can be done in one of two ways: the parents agree on the father and the court approves their agreement; or the court orders genetic testing which proves that an individual is the father and supports the court's order on paternity. Genetic testing involves swabbing inside the mouths of the purported father and child and submitting the saliva samples for testing.

In some circumstances, the critical issue might be determining that a presumed father is not the biological father. A case to establish nonpaternity can also be brought.

Meet With An Experienced Dakota County Paternity Lawyer

Dewalt Law Office assists individuals with a wide range of family law matters, including those who want to establish paternity or who need to legally deny paternity. Contact me to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Twin Cities family law attorney. I can answer your questions and recommend the best course of action.