In Minnesota and around the country, fathers are expected to provide child support to their children even if they are not and never were married to the kid’s mothers. While married men are usually presumed to be the legal fathers of any children born during their marriages or within a period of time after a divorce, things are not so straightforward when a marriage has never taken place.

Prior to the availability of DNA testing, proving a child’s paternity could be a fraught process. Blood tests were often inconclusive, and courts were often challenged to piece together a case for or against a man’s paternity based on the child’s appearance and the relationship between the two adults. However, modern DNA tests are extremely accurate and accepted within the legal system as proof for or against paternity.

Once paternity has been determined, parents can work out between themselves issues regarding support and visitation. Ideally, people will agree to an arrangement that works for all parties involved and prioritizes the best interests of the child. If the parents are initially unable to come to an agreement, they may decide to work with a professional mediator to help them work through the issues and develop an acceptable plan. Otherwise, the parents may have to rely on a decision made by a judge.

Unmarried parents may wish to consult with a family law attorney. A lawyer may be able to review the case and make recommendations regarding issues surrounding custody, parenting plans and financial support. In addition, an attorney may be able to assist with the process of requesting a DNA test that could include or exclude a man from being considered as the father of a child.