In Minnesota, when unmarried parents have a child, and later separate, it is important that legal parentage is established. One way to do this is to sign and file a Recognition of Parentage form. This form establishes a legal relationship between an unmarried biological father and his child. Both the father and the mother must sign the form. After that, the form is filed with the Office of Vital Records. Once this is done, the man is considered the child's father for legal purposes.
A valid Recognition of Parentage does not automatically give the father the right to custody of his child. However, it does allow him to be named on the child's birth record as the child's father and it allows him to move the court for a temporary order for child custody or parenting time, or a permanent order for custody or parenting time. In addition, it makes it possible for the child to be placed as a dependent under the father's medical insurance policy. Moreover, it gives the father the right to receive notification if the child is being adopted. Finally, it gives the mother the right to seek child support.
A Recognition of Parentage is entered into in lieu of going through a court proceeding to establish parentage. In fact, by signing a Recognition of Parentage, the father relinquishes his right to have a paternity proceeding or trial regarding whether or not he is the child's father. Because of this, if a man is not sure whether or not he is the child's father, he may not want to sign a Recognition of Parentage and he may want to seek the help of an attorney.
It is important that any child custody or visitation orders made are in the best interests of the child. In Minnesota, there is no presumption either in favor of or against joint custody of a child. This is why it is important to establish parentage, so that appropriate custody and visitation arrangements can be sought by the right individuals.