When a baby is born to an unwed mother in Minnesota,and no father's name is placed on the birth certificate, Minnesota law automatically grants the mother sole physical and legal custody. This gives her the right to put the child up for adoption without any requirement to seek the father's approval or even notification of her intent, if she is aware of who the father is.
The Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry gives unmarried men the opportunity to register to receive notification of a pending adoption of the child.
Even if you only suspect you are the father, it is important to register
Many unwed fathers are unsure of their paternity and the mother may not make it clear. There may be a variety of reasons the mother and father do not file litigation to force a DNA test to determine paternity.
Mothers with sole custody of the child are not required by law to notify the suspected father before placing the child up for adoption, if that is her decision. As such, unwed, unlisted fathers in Minnesota have no legal authority to stop the adoption, unless they file an official Recognition of Parentage (ROP) with the court and prove paternity. But many may not be made aware until the adoption has taken place.
The Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry is a means of notifying registrants that the mother has taken legal action to place the baby up for legal adoption. With prior notification, the father may take proactive steps to file for ROP. Upon DNA proof or the mother's legal acknowledgement of paternity, the father has the right to prevent the adoption, while also seeking parenting rights, along with child support obligations.
Grandparents' rights may start here
While Minnesota does not grant specific grandparents' rights of visitation after the divorce decree is final, applying for the ROP opens an opportunity recently approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Applying for the ROP is considered part of the legal custody process, meaning grandparents may, indeed, have a say in the matter while the ROP decision is still in the process.
Do you need to register with the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry?
If you are a male in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and want to seek parental rights for a child you suspect you may have fathered, talk to attorney Gregory Dittrich at Dittrich Law Firm, P.A. about the steps you can take. The first step may be registering with the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry.