Biology isn't the only factor that determines fatherhood, the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Monday. Under state law, a stepfather must be named in a paternity suit filed by Dakota County -- as well as the biological father, appellate judges said.

The issue was raised by a biological father, Edward L. Blackwell, who is being sued by Dakota County for child support and more. Blackwell says another man, who married the child's mother, should also be named in the paternity suit as a "presumptive father," as state law calls it.

Appellate judges agreed. They reversed a lower court decision and sent the paternity case back to Dakota County.

Blackwell had contended that stepfather John Reily's presence as a party is crucial to determine which legal presumption of fatherhood should prevail when it comes to the court ultimately establishing paternity and child support.

Genetic testing determined that Blackwell biologically fathered the boy born in 1999. The mother, Victoria Reily, had become pregnant when she was married to John Reily, with whom she had two other sons.

Last September, Dakota County sued Blackwell for past child support, public assistance, medical and other expenses related to the boy. Blackwell acknowledged paternity and said he's been giving the mother $400 a month since 2008 and paying insurance expenses.

Blackwell argued the district court erred by disregarding a certain section of state law. That section says a woman's husband can be considered the "presumptive father" for paternity proceedings even if he didn't biologically father the child, but had lived with him.

Now, both Blackwell and John Reily are to be parties in Dakota County's paternity suit as it once again moves ahead.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017