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Establishing paternity for unmarried fathers

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2020 | Custody & Visitation

When a child is born out of wedlock in Minnesota, sole custody is automatically given to the unmarried mother. This means that the biological father of the child has no parental rights.

In order to access these rights, a father must establish paternity. Establishing paternity gives the father legal status as the child’s parent. He can then file for custody and visitation rights.

Recognition of parentage

A father can establish paternity in two ways. First, if the father’s biological paternity is not in question, he and the mother can sign a recognition of parentage. The parents then file the recognition with Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, establishing the father’s paternity. The law now legally recognizes him as the father and adds his name to the child’s birth certificate.

If the mother is now married, her husband has parental rights. If he does not want these rights, he must also sign the recognition. This releases his claim to the child’s paternity.

Court order

If the mother and father cannot establish paternity without legal involvement, a court can require it. Both the mother and father can request a court-ordered paternity case, as can the county attorney. According to the Minnesota judicial branch, if a parent gets public assistance for the child, the county attorney can bring a paternity case. This way the court can order the unrecognized parent to support the child financially. The court will then hold a hearing that determines whether the man is the father. If necessary, the court will order genetic testing for the child and the alleged father to prove biological paternity.

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