As a father, you have a lot of responsibility, including the need to shelter and clothe your child. You also have certain rights as a parent, including the right to help make decisions about your child’s health care and education and the right to spend time with them.
Establishing paternity or parentage is very straightforward, but paternity is a bit more complex. There are essentially three ways that a father in Minnesota can establish himself as the legal parent of a child.
Marriage to the mother makes you the presumptive father
Just being married to the mother of your child gives you a very clear case for paternity. In fact, there is an automatic assumption that you are the father unless you or your spouse file paperwork attesting to the contrary. Your inclusion on the birth certificate as the father will be automatic in most cases.
Filling out paperwork with the mother can identify you as the father
Unmarried fathers usually have to take a few extra steps to be legal parents in the eyes of the state. If the mother agrees that you are the father, the two of you can jointly fill out a Recognition of Parentage form. You have this option any time after the birth of your child for as long as they are a minor.
You have to then submit the documents to the Minnesota Department of Health so that they can update state records to include you as the child’s legal father. Unfortunately, this option doesn’t work if the mother doesn’t want to acknowledge you or challenges your claim to paternity.
Asking the courts to help you
If the mother of your child is not your spouse and she refuses to voluntarily fill out paperwork to help you establish paternity, the family courts can help. You can request a hearing by attesting that you believe you are the biological father of the child.
The courts can compel genetic testing to validate your claim. If DNA tests do indicate you are the likely father, you will have all of the rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent. You may be in a position to ask for shared custody or at least visitation.
Establishing paternity can be the first step toward developing a beautiful relationship with your child.