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When does a paternity action matter?

Most North Dakota fathers are involved, supportive and loving participants in the lives of their children. Divorce and other circumstances can make it difficult for fathers to maintain their roles in the lives of their kids, and often, they feel helpless and unsure of the legal options available. Fathers have the right to fight for their parental rights and access to their kids. 

In some cases, a paternity action may be necessary in order to clearly establish the role of a father in the lives of his children. If you were not married to the mother when your children were born or the mother disputes that you are the biological father, you may need to take legal action. Taking specific legal steps may be the only way for you to secure visitation and possibly custody rights.

Why paternity is important

Paternity is not an issue in every custody and visitation case. When the parents are married when their children are born or the parents signed certain forms stating who the father is, there is typically no question about the identity of the father. Paternity is most often an issue in cases when the parents never married and custody is now an issue.

Perhaps your verbal custody agreement is no longer working, you want more time with your child or you want to start helping make decisions for your child. In these cases, it may be necessary to legally establish paternity. There is great significance in this step for you and your child, including:

  • Legally establishing paternity will give you the right to pursue visitation or even custody rights.
  • When a child knows who his or her father is and is able to have a relationship with him, it can provide emotional and mental stability and security.
  • Paternity will establish your financial responsibility for your child, which will benefit him or her. 

Navigating complex custody cases is not easy, and seeking a paternity action is not always the right answer. However, you have the right to your role in the life of your children and to take whatever steps are necessary to do that.

If you are dealing with custody matters related to paternity, you do not have to navigate them alone. It might be helpful for you to seek an understanding of your legal rights and options by reaching out to a family law attorney. Your legal ally can explain how to move forward with a paternity action or guide you through the most appropriate course of action.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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