In a civil paternity case, a judge steps in to determine the legal status, rights, and financial obligations of a father to his biological son or daughter. These types of court cases typically arise when an unmarried couple conceives a child, and the mother is filing for financial support from the “alleged” father until the child turns 18 years old. In some cases, however, the father will file for paternity, if the mother refuses him visitation rights or the father feels the child’s health and wellness would benefit from living with him, as the primary parent (or guardian), as opposed to living with the child’s mother.
In the state of Minnesota, if a couple is unmarried and conceives a child, the father has no legal rights to visit the child and no financial obligations to support the child, even if his name appears on the child’s birth certificate. Also under Minnesota law, the spouse of the mother (her husband) is presumed to be the legal father of the child, even if the mother had the child with another individual (MNCourts.gov). This means if you are the biological father, but you are not married to the mother of your child, you will need to establish paternity in order to be legally identified as the father and given parental rights.
How Can You Establish Paternity?
To establish paternity, your state’s requirements may defer, but in Minnesota, you have four ways to establish your legal rights as the child’s father:
- DNA Test: You can either request a DNA test or file a court order to have one completed, if the mother of the child refuses to consent to one.
- Recognition of Parentage Form: If you and the mother of your child agree that you are the legal father, you must both sign a Voluntary Recognition of Parentage form to establish paternity. Please note that in the state of MN, “Signing a “Recognition of Parentage” form does not create any custody rights or support obligations. You need a court order to get custody or support,” (MNCourts.gov).
- Minnesota Father’s Adoption Registry (MFAR): After the child’s birth, you have 30 days to complete a free registry with MFAR. Once you do, you will receive notification of any adoption petitions involving your child, before they become finalized.
- File a Court Order: If the mother of the child does not consent to any of the three options above and does not recognize you as the legal father, you will need to file a court order that may require genetic testing to help establish your paternity rights.
How Long Does a Father Have to File for Paternity?
The answer to this question will depend on which state you live in; however, you will need to compete the MFAR no later than 30 days after your child is born. Remember, this registry ensures you will be notified if any adoption proceedings occur involving your child and will give you the opportunity to take part in important decisions that will affect your child’s future.
Need to Establish Paternity?
Have questions about filing for paternity? Contact KTF law firm today! Our team of experienced family lawyers are here to help inform your decisions, file the correct forms and paperwork on time, and guide you through the judicial system to ensure you receive the support and resources you need during this essential time.