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About child custody and fathers' rights

Biological parents in Minnesota are entitled to obtain child custody or visitation even if they weren't married when the child was born. In making a determination about child custody issues, the family court will always consider what is in the best interest of the child. Unless the court is presented evidence to the contrary, there is a presumption that the participation of both parents in a child's life is most beneficial to the child.

If the father of a child was not married to the mother when the child was born, he is required to legally establish paternity in order to obtain rights as a father. This can be accomplished at the time of birth or afterward if both parents submit an acknowledgment of paternity with a local court or state agency. If the paternity of a child is disputed, a DNA test will be part of a legal process that will end with a court order confirming whether or not the man is the biological father of the child.

Parenting agreements or plans can be negotiated before or after legal processes have started. The agreement will detail who will have primary custody, specifics regarding visitation for the other parent, methods for making decisions regarding health care, education or religion and mechanisms for addressing any potential changes to the agreement.

Parents who agree on a parenting plan can request an approval from a judge that can be incorporated into a court order. If there is no agreement, either parent can make an argument through a contested hearing.

An attorney who practices family law may help a parent deal with child custody issues. This may include engaging in litigation or negotiation to resolve requests for child custody modifications.

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