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A closer look at paternity matters in Minnesota - III

Last fall, we started discussing the legally complex and often emotionally charged issue of paternity in an attempt to help set the record straight on a family law topic that has unfortunately become a plot device for some overly imaginative television shows.

In today's post, our efforts will continue as we take a closer look at why exactly it's so imperative to establish paternity from a legal perspective here in Minnesota. 

What establishing paternity can do -- a father's perspective

Whether paternity is established via a Recognition of Parentage or a court order, fathers should know that either way will pave the way for them to start seriously considering playing a role in the lives of their children.

It's important to understand that if paternity is established via a court hearing, the presiding judge will make decisions concerning child custody and parenting time after examining what's in the best interests of the child.

However, if the father signed an ROP, he will not be granted any sort of rights relating to child custody and parenting time, and will actually be required to file a motion seeking to secure both. As with any such request, the judge will consider the child's best interests.

The types of custody a father could secure in either context include:

  • Physical custody: This is the right of a parent to make decisions about a child's everyday activities and place of residence; In the typical arrangement, one parent is given sole physical custody and the other is awarded parenting time (i.e., visitation).
  • Legal custody: This is the right of a parent to make decisions about how the child should be raised (i.e., decisions like health care, education, religion, etc.); In the typical arrangement, both parents are awarded legal custody. 

To learn more about complex legal matters related to paternity, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

Source: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support, "Paternity and custody," July 2014

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