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How do biological fathers establish fatherhood in Minnesota?

A large percentage of Minnesota children born today are born to parents who are not legally married. There are many reasons for this change in traditional family structure, but there are ways a man can be named the 'legal' father of a child even if he is not married to the child's mother. The way a Minnesota man will go about this differs depending on his situation. One path will certainly be easier than the other, if the situation is in his favor.

The easiest way to achieve establish fatherhood rights is to sign a Recognition of Paternity or ROP form that states the man and mother agree that he is the biological father. If there is dispute on this point, the party seeking paternity must seek a Court Order establishing paternity. This Court Order may make a paternity test mandatory in order to prove that the father is the biological father if this is disputed by either party. When the results come back showing that the man in question is in fact the child's biological father, then he may seek legal with regard to his child.

When and if legal fatherhood is granted, the now 'legal' father will be granted access to certain rights. These rights may or may not include rights to custody or visitation. This could mean that a parenting schedule must be set, child support payments discussed, and custody and visitation arrangements determined. There are numerous ways these arrangements can be made, but it is often wise to discuss these matters with an attorney to ensure that it is fair under the circumstances.

For some fathers, there is a long road to establishing paternity and custody. It may seem like a lot of work, but for many fathers and their children, it is definitely worth it. However, nothing can happen until the proper legal steps are taken to establish paternity. With this in mind, those considering establishing paternity should fully inform themselves of the law and its requirements.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "How can a man become the legal father if he is not married to the mother?" accessed Sep. 7, 2015

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