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Paternity Establishment

Why it is important to establish paternity?
Paternity establishes a legal father who is responsible for support of the children whether or not he is married to the mother of the children.  The support can include basic support, medical support and child care. Children with legal fathers may have rights to benefits through their fathers, including Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits, tribal registration benefits, health care coverage, workers' compensation benefits, and inheritance rights.  Children also benefit by knowing their biological, cultural, and medical histories.

How is paternity established?

Paternity may be established in two ways:

  1. Recognition of Parentage (ROP)   Unmarried parents of a child may sign a ROP at the hospital upon the birth of a child, or at a County child support office.  The ROP determines that the man who signed is the legal and biological father of the child.  If the mother was married to another man at the time the child was conceived, for the ROP to determine the legal and biological father of the child, the husband must also sign a form within one year of the child’s birth.

  2. Court Adjudication The County or one of the parents may file an action in court to adjudicate paternity.  In Ramsey County, if one of the parents receives child support services, the paternity action is filed in the Expedited Child Support Process, and the hearing is conducted by a Child Support Magistrate.  If the parents do not agree on some or all of the issues involved in the paternity action, then all or some of the issues may be referred to District Court to be heard before a Judge or Referee.  Also, if the alleged father does not agree that he is the biological father of the child, he may request a jury trial.  Prior to any adjudication of paternity, Ramsey County requests that the alleged father, the mother, and the child be required to participate in genetic testing.

For more information about establishing parentage, see the Department of Human Services website.

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