When children are born outside of marriage, mothers must establish legal paternity to pursue child support, and fathers need to do the same to pursue their legal rights to their children. As a general rule, however, the Minnesota Courts presume paternity when a man is married to the biological mother at the time of a child’s birth, as well as under other specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, each Minneapolis family law attorney at our firm has seen cases that are not this simple. When presumed paternity is later discovered to be incorrect, husbands can face some complicated legal issues.
MN Law Can Potentially Alter a Long-Term Bond Between Father and Child
There are many conditions that can establish presumed paternity. In fact, the law also presumes paternity when a man receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his biological child. However, presumed paternity only goes so far. Whether the biological mother later alleges paternity by another man, or if a biological father returns to claim rights to a child, the courts can potentially transfer rights from the presumed father to a proven biological father. A judicial paternity decision can lead to any number of serious situations for presumed fathers and the children, such as the following:
- Instantly severing a close bond between presumed father and child
- Raising concerns about financial support for the child
- Involving a biological father who establishes legal custody in the daily decisions pertaining to anything from health to education of the children
- Altering residential circumstances due to changes in physical custody or visitation awards
While Minnesota family law issues always focus primarily on the best interests of the children, it does not typically ignore the rights of biological fathers, even if they appear on the scene years after the birth of their child.
Three Parents and One Child Can Lead to Legal Complexities
In many ways, addressing paternity issues between two unmarried parents is a relatively straightforward matter. Whether paternity is established with a Recognition of Parentage form or through genetic testing, both parents can easily pursue their parental rights in court.
Still, any presumed father who learns about a biological father — sometimes years after the birth of a child — faces a potentially complex legal battle based on the wishes of the biological parents. Even if the mother would prefer for conditions to remain the same between her husband and the child, a proven biological father has every right to take issues to court to pursue his rights. On the other hand, he might be willing to terminate his parental rights, which would allow the presumed father to legally adopt the child.
The main point is that neither presumed fatherhood nor biological fatherhood automatically equates to legal fatherhood. These situations can lead to emotionally-charged courtroom battles that are likely to affect a child’s life now and into the future. A Minnesota paternity attorney has the experience and compassion to offer creative solutions that can help reduce the conflict and provide children with the stability they need. To learn about the legal options available in these complex circumstances, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.