When it comes to the issue of paternity, most people have a general understanding that it involves establishing the identity of a father for the purposes of collecting child support. While this is technically accurate, it's important to understand that there is actually much more to the process.
In today's post, the first in an ongoing series, we'll start by taking a closer look at one of the ways in which parties can establish paternity here in Minnesota.
As stated above, paternity means establishing who is viewed as the father in the eyes of the law. If a couple is married when a child is born, the husband is treated as the legal father of the child. However, the situation is not so clear-cut when a couple is not married, and the child won't be considered to have a legal father paternity is established.
In general, paternity can be established in one of two ways in Minnesota.
A Recognition of Parentage
If both parents are in agreement that the man is the father of the child, they can execute a document known as a Recognition of Parentage, which can be secured either at the hospital or via the child support office of the county in which the child is born.
An ROP can be executed anytime and is only considered final once filed with the Minnesota Department of Health. Furthermore, it is only considered final if both parents are 18 or over, and the mother is not married to someone else at the time of the birth.
It should be noted that either parent can actually revoke the ROP via a form secured from and filed with the health department. If this revocation by writing doesn't take place within 60 days, however, a party must go to court to cancel the ROP, meaning they are subject to time limits and will need to submit the necessary evidence.
Finally, fathers should note that the ROP doesn't grant them de facto custody rights or visitation, as it is only used by the court to establish child support.
Stay tuned for future posts to continue to learn more about establishing paternity here in Minnesota. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn about this issue, or issues related to custody and visitation.
Source: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support, "Paternity and custody," Accessed July 2014