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Establishing paternity is very important because a child’s father has no legal right to him or her in regards to parenting time or custody until after paternity is established. A state, county agency, or mother has no right to pursue an alleged father for child support under paternity is established. Paternity is the law’s way of saying it recognizes the biological relationship between a father and his child.
Even after paternity is established an unwed mother has all custodial rights to a child until the court decides otherwise. If there is a paternity court hearing, the court will make a decision regarding whether a man is a child’s biological father. Depending upon the involvement of the parties the same hearing can also be used to address issues of custody, visitation, and child support.
Interestingly, parties to a paternity suit or trial have the right to have the matter resolved by a jury. However, most parties agree to have a trial only with the judge because most paternity matters are resolved through the collection of DNA samples.
If you are facing a paternity matter, having an experienced Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin family law attorney by your side throughout the process will help ensure it moves as smoothly as possible and that you receive a fair outcome in the matter.
There are two primary ways that paternity is established in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The first way, which is the most common way, is for the alleged father to sign a certificate following the birth of a child that admits that he is the child’s father. In Minnesota this is called a Recognition of Parentage; in Wisconsin it is called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. The second most common method for determining paternity is through genetic testing.
A Recognition of Parentage or Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is when both parents sign a sworn statement that says the man is the father of the child. This document has to be filed with the Minnesota Department of Health or Wisconsin Department of Children and Families in order to be valid. If the mother is not married to another person and the parents are at least 18 years of age, the statement is final. This document can be completed at any time. However, it is best to speak with your Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin family law lawyer before signing this document to ensure it is the best course of action to take.
In some cases, genetic testing may be the best course of action. This may be the case when one parent does not want to sign a Recognition of Parentage or Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or there may be more than one man claiming to be the father of the child. Genetic testing may also be required when the mother was married to someone else at the time the child was born. The court will evaluate the evidence, including any genetic tests, and the past relationship between the possible father and the mother. You can ask for the genetic test if you feel that it is necessary, but you do not have to have one in order to establish paternity of the child.
Finally, there may be cases where someone is trying to disprove that he is the father of a child. It is rare but there are cases where men sign a written paternity acknowledgement and pay child support for years when they are in fact not the child’s father. In this case you need to obtain a judgment of non-paternity, which can vacate a previous judgment of paternity or invalidate a written acknowledgement of paternity.
No matter the issue surrounding paternity, your Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin family law lawyer can help you address it. While these matters can sometimes move smoothly, there are times when they are met with conflict and that can result in the need for legal advice that will point you in the right direction. This is so you can receive a fair outcome in the matter that will allow you to move forward.
Paternity is a very sensitive issue in that establishing paternity also establishes parental rights. It is also an opportunity for a father to financially support his child through child support. If you need to establish paternity for any reason, you can receive the help you need by utilizing the assistance of an experienced Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin paternity lawyer. To learn more about how the Benjamin Kaasa Law Office, PLLC can help you, call 218-464-3397 for a free consultation.