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Sorting out the issues regarding paternity and fathers' rights

Minneapolis fathers may be interested in learning about the legal definition of paternity and how it is established. Paternity can have a large impact on both a father's rights and the rights of the child with regard to support, education and other important life decisions.

Under the laws of Minnesota, "paternity" is the name given to the concept of legal fatherhood. While a child has a biological father if he or she was born to an unmarried couple, the child has no legal father. Even a birth certificate is not enough to establish paternity in those cases. Paternity can be established in one of two ways: either through filling out and filing a Recognition of Parentage form or by an order from the court. The ROP form simply acknowledges the child's biological parents. If the father is unwilling to sign the form, a paternity action must be brought in court seeking an order from a judge. This process may require genetic testing to discover if the man is the child's biological father.

Legal parentage can be helpful when important life decisions are made on behalf of the child. Having paternal rights allows the father to have a say in the child's education and medical treatment. Additionally, establishing paternity may allow a father the right to adequate parenting time with the child. Payment of child support to the custodial parent may be required once paternity is established.

Establishing paternity and asserting fathers' rights may require the assistance of an attorney who could bring the appropriate paternity actions, whether directly with the child's mother or through the courts. The attorney might also assist in negotiating a fair child support agreement with the custodial parent.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Basics on Paternity - Being a "Legal" Father", August 14, 2014

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