- by Eric C. Nelson, Attorney

The days of factual disputes over paternity are long gone, as the issue of biological paternity is now decided by DNA, which is hard to argue with.

Disputes may still arise as a matter of law where, for example, one man is presumed the father because of DNA, and another is presumed the father by reason of marriage. For reasons of public policy, the biological father does not always prevail.

Paternity can be established by means of a judgment of paternity, or alternatively by execution and filing of a Recognition of Parentage by both parents.

With respect to corollary issues of child custody and child support, etc., these are all decided pursuant to the same law that governs children born of marriage.

For unmarried parents, the mother has sole legal and physical custody unless and until the Court orders otherwise, pursuant to
Minnesota Statute section 257.75, subdivision 3. Nevertheless, a mother should be careful before denying parenting time, because one of the many factors which the court considers in determining permanent custody is “the disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.” Minn. Stat. § 518.17, Subd. 1(13). Fathers in this situation should bring a Petition for Custody and Parenting Time as soon as possible. (Custody may also be sought as part of a paternity case, if paternity has not already been established by means of a Recognition of Parentage).