“Paternity” refers to the establishment of the Father-child relationship under the law. Establishing paternity is often the first step when unmarried parents end their relationship, and it is an important step: it is the Father claiming the child as his own in the eyes of the law. With an establishment of paternity comes the right of the Father to petition the Court for custody rights and parenting time
Under Minnesota law, a Father who is not married to his child’s Mother must go to Court to have his rights to custody and parenting time established. With an establishment of paternity comes a duty of the Father to financially support the child, and he may be required to pay an equitable share of hospital costs associated with the child’s birth, the Mother’s hospital stay, and the Mother’s lost wages due to the pregnancy and birth.
Paternity may be presumed for many Fathers, meaning that a Father does not have to undergo a DNA test to establish his paternity. For unmarried parents, a presumption of paternity may be established in several ways in Minnesota:
- The Father may be named on the child’s birth certificate;
- Father and Mother may execute a Recognition of Parentage (257.75);
- Both Mother and Father may execute a Declaration of Parentage (257.34); or
- While the child is under 18, Father takes the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his biological child
These presumptions of paternity allow a Father to immediately petition a Court for custody and parenting time rights, and may immediately allow a Mother to petition the Court for child support.