Every child deserves the emotional and financial support of both parents—and in an ideal world, every parent should have the legal right to spend time with their child. Unfortunately, because of conflict between parents, the process of establishing paternity and child custody can be incredibly frustrating, with little to no progress made. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when faced with these kinds of disputes. 

At Rieper Law P.C., I provide personalized representation to clients for a wide range of paternity matters. I take the time to learn about your situation and provide honest advice regarding your best options. I’m here to guide you through the entire process, from DNA testing to establishing custody and other parental rights. Ultimately, I work hard to ensure that my clients and any children they may have receive the best possible care when dealing with paternity and parental rights disputes. I do this not only because it is my job, but because it’s the care and advocacy I would want for my own family. 

I represent clients seeking to establish paternity in Des Moines, Iowa, and neighboring areas of Polk, Dallas, Warren, Madison, Jasper, and Story Counties.



Why Paternity Is Important

Establishing paternity can be beneficial for the child, the father, and the mother. Legal paternity might have to be established before a court can order custody, visitation, and child support.

Here are just a few reasons why establishing paternity can be important:

Identity. It is important for the child to know they are part of a family. Similarly, it is important for the father to know that they are “legally” the father of the child. Paternity can help create relationships between the father’s side of the family and the child. Identity is more than simply having a father’s name on a birth certificate. By establishing paternity, these important relationships can be established.

Father-Child Relationship. A relationship between a father and a child can be foundational to the child’s life. Establishing paternity is an important first step to creating this bond.

Custody and Visitation. If the parents do not live together or are arguing over custody or visitation rights, then paternity may need to be established legally in order for the court to issue custody or visitation rights to the father.

Financial. Both parents must provide financial support to their children. For a court to require the father to make child support payments, paternity must be legally established.

Medical. It is also important to determine the paternity of your child for medical reasons. The child’s doctors may need to know the medical history of both parents in order to be aware of specific genetic traits and diseases. When paternity is established, the child’s father may also add the child to his medical insurance.

Access to Information. Fathers and mothers have the right to be notified about proceedings involving their child. This can include criminal issues, adoption, juvenile court matters, and custody. Parents may also access information regarding schools, medical treatments, and religious matters.

Establishing Paternity In Iowa

There are different ways to legally establish paternity in the state of Iowa:

A Paternity Affidavit (Voluntary)

This affidavit is a sworn statement with both parents agreeing that the man in question is the father, legally and biologically. Both parents agree to accept the responsibility to financially support their child, including child support. A paternity affidavit often paves the way for establishing legal visitation and custody rights. 

A Paternity Order (Involuntary)

The second way that paternity can be established is through a CSRU (Child Support Recovery Unit) paternity order. CSRU usually gets involved when a parent applies for financial aid through the State of Iowa. This often happens if one parent isn't receiving financial assistance for the child from the other parent. CSRU is in place to make sure that children are being financially supported by their parents.


Another way to legally establish paternity is simply for the parents to marry get married before the baby is born. 

Dealing With Paternity Disputes

Proving paternity can be a frustrating and discouraging process. If you find yourself unable to establish paternity, custody, visitation, or support, then you need legal help. These cases are often complicated and require the help of an experienced family law attorney. With the proper guidance, you can move forward.

If you need to prove paternity for visitation rights, an attorney can instruct you on your next steps. A blood sample may end up being required. If you are not the biological father of the child, your attorney needs to prove paternity by other means. The right strategy is heavily dependent on your unique situation. 

In some cases, an individual may seek to disprove their paternity. The child’s mother could take legal action to force you to pay for child support. If you are not the child’s father, you should have no legal or moral obligation to make such payments. An attorney may use a DNA test to seek to prove that you are not the child’s biological father. Often, this can be a simple solution to the problem.


Navigating a divorce, separation, or unexpected pregnancy can be an emotional rollercoaster. In the midst of such circumstances, you shouldn’t have to worry about your paternal and custodial rights. At Rieper Law P.C., I assist residents of Iowa who seek legal counsel for a broad range of paternity issues. Reach out to me today to arrange a consultation regarding your circumstances and options.