Although every child has a biological father, not every child necessarily has a legal father. In Minnesota, when an unmarried couple has a child, paternity can be established only after someone takes the legal measures to show that the person is the legal father. Unless paternity is established, the person will not be considered the legal father of the child, even if his name reflects it on the child’s birth certificate. The father has no financial obligation towards the child nor can he claim child custody or parenting time.
To establish paternity, the father must approach the court or follow the process under the recognition of parentage, or ROP. Both the parents may sign the ROP form and submit it with the Minnesota Department of Health, mentioning that they are the biological parents of the child. However, if there is disagreement between the parents regarding the biological father, they may have to approach the court for an order.
According to the Minnesota law, an unmarried mother has sole custody of the child until custody order is issued by the court. The law also presumes, in cases of married women, that the father of a married woman’s child is her husband, even if he is not the true biological father. Until it is proven that the husband is not the child’s father, the husband will be responsible for the child.
To establish fatherhood, the parents of the child may seek genetic testing. These tests can be either carried out by a court’s order or on accord of the parents. Paternity tests may also be carried out by the court or on request of an agency such as the Child Support Office or Social Services. When the parents request for a genetic test, they may also have to file an affidavit showing there was sufficient sexual contact between the parents to conceive the child.
Sometimes the person may sign the ROP form, but later believe that he is not the father of the child, or want a genetic testing in response to a court order. In such cases, the person may consider assistance of a legal professional for guidance and assistance.
Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, “Basics on Paternity – Being a “Legal” Father,” accessed on Aug. 12, 2014