Establishing Legal Paternity

Health and Human Services

The Pine County Attorney’s Office and the Pine County Child Support Agency work together to establish paternity and obtain financial support for children.

Establishing paternity means legally determining the father of a child or legal fatherhood.

  • If the parents of a child are married to each other, the husband is the legal father of any child conceived or born while the parents are married.
  • If the parents of a child are not married to each other, it is important that paternity be legally established so that the child has a legal father.

In the State of Minnesota, paternity can be established in two ways:

  • Recognition of Parentage: Parents can sign a form called Minnesota Voluntary Recognition of Parentage. When this form is filed  and accepted with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics it legally establishes the father and child relationship.
  • Court Action

Why should I establish legal paternity for my child?

There are many reasons to establish paternity. It provides benefits to the father, mother and child. Paternity must be legally established to request a court order for custody, parenting time (visitation), and child support.

When children know they are part of a family, they are likely to be more secure about who they are and where they come from. Establishing paternity identifies the father’s side of the family and may encourage contact with other family members, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, or other relatives. It also may give children the opportunity to learn about and appreciate their cultural heritage.

Self Esteem:
Children respond to love and support from both parents. They need to know who their father is and that he cares about them.

Both parents have a right to establish a healthy relationship with and responsibility to care for their child. Making the relationship legal provides a greater opportunity for this to take place. Establishing paternity is a necessary first step for the father to request a court order regarding custody and/or parenting time (visitation) or the legal right to have a say in certain decisions about the child.

Children deserve, and the law requires, that both parents support their children. Statistically, children who have only one legally responsible parent are more likely to be poor than are children born to married parents.

Access to Information:
Legal fathers and mothers have the right to be notified of adoption proceedings, juvenile court hearings and custody hearings involving the child. Legal fathers and mothers may have the right of access to and receive copies of school, medical, dental, religious training and other important records and information about the minor child.

Health History:
Children and their health care providers need to know the family’s medical history, so they can be aware of whether they may have inherited any special health problems or genetic traits from either side of the family.

Other Benefits:
Your child has the right to other possible benefits from both parents. Many of these benefits may be denied to your child if legal paternity is not established. Some of these benefits may include:

  • Social Security from a deceased or disabled parent
  • Inheritance Rights
  • Military benefits
  • Life insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Tribal registration
  • Worker’s compensation benefits.

For more information on establishing paternity go to the State of MN web site.