How is Paternity Established in North Dakota?


Paternity is defined as the legal admission of a man being the father and holding responsibility to a child.  There are a number of benefits to establishing paternity including financial support from both a mother and father, visitation rights, and a larger family for the child. There are a few ways paternity can be established in North Dakota.

Presumption of Legitimacy

In North Dakota, if a child is born within a marriage or within 300 days of the marriage being terminated, the husband is presumed to be the father to that child. If the father does not believe the child is his and can provide proof, such as a DNA test, he may take the situation to court. Until any legal decision is made by a court; however, he will continue to be held as the parental figure to the child.

Acknowledgement of Paternity

An Acknowledgement of Paternity is used to legally establish paternity when a child is born to an unwed mother. This a voluntary process and is designed for parents that are completely sure of the biological father and want to avoid court involvement. If the father is present for the birth of the child, this process can be completed at the hospital (within 3 days of the child’s birth), and the father’s name will be put on the birth certificate. If the father is not present at the time of birth, an Acknowledgment of Paternity must be completed and signed in front of a witness.

Paternity Lawsuit

If a mother or father wishes to establish paternity and are unable to do so with the Acknowledgement of Paternity, legal action must be taken. During this process, either party is able to court order genetic testing be done on the parent or child to prove paternity. The court will also be able to order child or medical support, residential responsibility and parenting time. These decisions will be based on what the judge deems best for the child.


If you are thinking of establishing paternity, contact the attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss. Our attorneys are prepared to help you further understand North Dakota family law and will aid in your fight for your rights to reach the best solution for your family.


Photo courtesy of Flickr/Meagan