Whether a child’s parents were married upon the child’s birth, and whether paternity has been acknowledged and established, are two key factors in determining child custody. If the parents were unmarried, the mother has an automatic right to sole custody of the child until paternity is established, or a court decrees otherwise.

To acknowledge paternity at birth, both parents, if unmarried during conception, and unmarried at birth, may declare that they are the biological parents of the child by a signed and notarized documents. If paternity was not acknowledged at birth, but is later established, the father must petition the court for custody and/or parenting time.

There are a number of ways to establish paternity. If paternity has been both acknowledged and established, custody and parenting time will be determined by the court.

When a child custody determination case appears before the court (either after the establishment of paternity, or during a proceeding such as divorce), the court will act in the best interests of the child. To establish the best interests of the child, the court looks to many factors, including:

  • What outcome is desired by the parties involved;
  • What the child desires, if the child is of sufficient age;
  • Who serves currently as the child’s primary caretaker; and
  • How close the child is to each party involved.

Due to the significance of the court’s ruling, and the many factors involved in determining the child’s best interests, it is in your best interests to obtain the services of a knowledgeable family law attorney. Our attorneys will labor tirelessly to safeguard your relationship with your children. To discuss your Minnesota child custody case, contact an experienced family law attorney at Patton, Hoversten & Berg, P.A. today.

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