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Being Recognized as a "Legal Father" - Paternity in Minnesota
(provided by Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.)

In order to be recognized as a father under Minnesota's law, an order must be entered adjudicating paternity. This does not necessarily require court proceedings. A father may sign a "Recognition of Parentage" which creates a presumption that the signing person is the child's father.

WHAT IS A RECOGNITION OF PARENTAGE?

The Recognition of Parentage (ROP) is a legal document that establishes a man as the father of a child when the parents are not married. Both parents must sign this document before a Notary Public. Parents may execute this document at the time the child is born or afterwards in order to have the father recognized as the legal parent.

If the parents are under the age of 18, they may still sign the ROP form which will then create a presumption of paternity. It allows the father legal rights and imposes on him legal responsibilities that may necessary to formalize in court in the event that either party raises paternity, custody, visitation or child support issues.

If the parents are age 18 or older when a ROP is signed, that document will become the equivalent of an order of the Court adjudicating paternity if it is not contented within 30 days after the signing. By establishing paternity, the ROP grants the parents certain legal rights and establishes legal responsibilities related to the minor child.

Each parent has a legal duty to support the child financially. A child cannot get court ordered child support from a father unless that father is recognized as the child's legal father through an adjudication of paternity or signing a ROP.

Additionally, each parent has a right to access school and medical records related to the minor child.

WHERE DO WE ACQUIRE A RECOGNITION OF PARENTAGE FORM?

A ROP may usually be acquired at signed at the hospital when the child is born. After the child's birth, you may still sign a ROP by acquiring that document from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (612) 296-2542, an area hospital, a child support agency, an attorney or from the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.

The ROP is filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. If the form is signed at the hospital, the hospital will file the form for you at no additional cost. If you file the form some time after the child's birth, it must be filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics with a small fee.

The address is :

State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Minnesota Department of Health, 717 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

DO WE NEED A RECOGNITION OF PARENTAGE FORM IF WE LIVE TOGETHER?

Yes.

Living together may create a presumption of paternity, but it does not establish the father as the child's legal father. This means that child support cannot be ordered by the Court and the father is not entitled to any legal rights such as access to records or visitation.

HOW DO WE GET THE FATHER'S NAME ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE?

Parents signing a ROP at the hospital after the child's birth will automatically have their names placed on the child's birth certificate. If the ROP is signed at a later time, the father's name may be added to the birth certificate upon presenting a certified copy of the ROP to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. A small fee is charged to change the birth certificate.

DOES SIGNING A RECOGNITION OF PARENTAGE MEAN I CANNOT LATER CONTEST PATERNITY?

No.

Paternity may be challenged even after a ROP is signed. If you change you mind within 30 days of signing the ROP, you can sign a Revocation of Recognition. This cancels the ROP. The revocation must be signed before a notary in the same way that the ROP itself was signed. The revocation may be acquired form and must also be filed with the Registrar of Vital Statistics within 30 days of signing the ROP to be effective.

If you do not sign and file a Revocation within 30 days, you may still ask the court to vacate the ROP by commencing an action to disclaim paternity. In order to challenge an ROP, you must demonstrate a good reason to change your mind. A good reason may be that you later discovered that you may not be the child's father.

However, there are very strict time requirements for challenging paternity once it has been established by a ROP. Under Minnesota Statutes S. 257.57, you must contest paternity within one year after signing the ROP. If after one year, you still may contest paternity with six months after obtaining blood test results that indicate you are not the child's father.

The legislature has set this statute of limitations for contesting paternity believing that the it is in the child's best interests to rely on one person as his/her father after a parental relationship has been established. Knowing their legal father provides children with a sense of security and identity. Additionally, children with recognized legal fathers may have rights to benefits based on the father's relationship with them (eg. social security, veteran's benefits, worker's compensation, health care coverage, inheritance rights, tribal registration).

Information provided by:
Maury D. Beaulier, Esq., located at
http://www.divorcesource.com/MN/pages/Custody.html

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