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Is it Possible to Disestablish Paternity in Minnesota?

by | Oct 19, 2021 | Family Law

Paternity is important. Without it, fathers lack rights and responsibilities. Most paternity disputes involve cases in which paternity has not been established. Either the mother or putative father is seeking paternity rights. However, there are also some cases that go in the opposite direction.

You may be wondering: Can paternity be taken back after it is established in Minnesota? The answer is ‘yes’—but only in limited circumstances. Here, our Mankato family lawyers explain the most important things that you need to know about disestablishing paternity in Minnesota.

Paternity is the Basis of a Father’s Right in Minnesota

As a starting point, it is crucial to re-emphasize the importance of paternity. If paternity has not been established, then a man has no parental rights. He cannot seek child custody or child visitation. In a similar fashion, a man has no parental responsibilities if paternity has not been established. The child’s mother cannot seek child support payments from him unless paternity is in place.

Minnesota Law: You Can Disestablish Paternity—But Only Under Limited Circumstances

In Minnesota, it is technically possible to disestablish paternity. Either party—a mother or a legal father—can file a claim to disestablish paternity. However, a parent cannot simply disestablish paternity by choice in Minnesota. Instead, the party filing the claim to disestablish paternity must have recently learned of “new information” that confirms that the child’s true parentage is in question.

For example, a married man is automatically his wife’s child’s legal father in Minnesota. No action is required to establish paternity. Imagine that a year goes by and a Mankato father finds out that he is likely not the true biological father of his wife’s child. At that time, he could potentially take legal action to disestablish paternity.

What it Means to Disestablish Paternity

Disestablishing paternity is a huge step. In Minnesota, it will remove parental rights and parental responsibilities from a man. In other words, that man will simply no longer be the child’s legal father. He will lose any ability to claim child custody or child visitation rights. Likewise, once paternity has been disestablished, all child support obligations will be terminated.

Understanding the “Knowledge” Element of Disestablishment of Paternity Cases

A claim to disestablish paternity in Minnesota must be based on “new information.” The parent filing the motion must act quickly on any knowledge that they have that puts a child’s parentage in question. As a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in the 1986 case of Clay v. Clay, a parent who fails to act in a timely manner to disestablish paternity may lose their right to do so.

Schedule a Confidential Family Law Consultation in Southern Minnesota

At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Minnesota family lawyers are skilled advocates for parents. If you have any questions or concerns about disestablishing paternity in Minnesota, we are here to help. Call us at 507-405-2442 or connect with us online for your confidential initial consultation. We provide divorce & family law representation throughout Southern Minnesota from law offices in Mankato and Rochester.