Unmarried couples who have children together may think that establishing paternity is not that important.
Many unmarried couples live together and raise their children together, while others feel that their relationships are stable enough where they can raise their children even though they live apart.
While this approach is not bad per se, it does carry with it some legal risks. In both North Dakota and Minnesota, the ordinary way of getting child support, child custody and parenting time is through a paternity determination.
What this means is that without legally establishing paternity, a father cannot demand parenting time or fight for custodial rights. If the mother does not want to give these to him, he has no recourse. Likewise, the child’s mother has no legal authority to demand child support from the father.
If a couple’s relationship sours at any time and for any reason, not having a paternity order can become a real legal headache.
There are many different ways to establish paternity. More common ways in which parents establish paternity are through genetic testing or by signing a document in which both the mother and the father formally confirm the identity of the child’s parents.
It is important for both parents to remember that establishing paternity does not automatically give them right to child support, child custody or parenting time.
The couple will either need to submit an agreement or return to court in order to have the judge make decisions about these important issues.
Still, establishing paternity legally can be an important step for parents in the Fargo area to take. They may wish to consider speaking to an attorney about their specific circumstances.