The state of Minnesota is serious about giving each child a chance to have two supportive parents and giving every child the benefits this often provides. Sometimes the adults around a child have trouble making this happen, and Minnesota does everything it can to attend to the best interests of the child.
Birth, maternity and paternity
Before it can decide things like custody, support and much esle, the legal system must be able to decide the basic matter of who the child’s parents are.
When a child is born, typically everybody knows who the mother is, and she’s permitted to sign the Recognition of Parentage (ROP). If she’s legally married at the time, the husband is presumed to be the father and his name and signature can also go on the ROP.
Minnesota starts with these assumptions. Obviously, the state knows things can get complicated, but the baby’s best interests wouldn’t be served by snooping into the private lives of every kid’s parents.
Complications for the ROP
If the couple is not married, the mother has sole custody and only she has any legal rights having to do with the child. Usually, a man wants to be named the father and be allowed to share custody, have visitation rights, guardianship and the like.
Also, if the couple is not married, the mother bears sole responsibility for the child and doesn’t necessarily have any legal right to receive child support. She typically want a man named the legal father.
If the two agree that the man is the father, both can sign the ROP. This doesn’t permanently and automatically translate into child support, visitation and custody, but it’s a step in that direction.
In both these cases, however, the two may not agree. In fact, even if the couple is married, the husband may doubt he’s the biological father, he may not want his name on the ROP. In these cases, there may be a need for a Paternity Adjudication.
Fatherhood goes to court
Once the mother or the possible father file for a Paternity Adjudication, the court is going to want the facts. Either member of the couple may demand lab tests that can indicate biological paternity.
The lab tests may decide things. But they don’t have the sole power to do so. Other factors may lead the court to make a call one way or the other.
These might be the timing of the birth alongside when the couple was married and/or divorced. Or, for example, the man may have already accepted the child for some time as his child, in which case he may be unable to “take it back.”
There are other factors as well, but the court generally has the final say. Either member of the couple has a legal right to a jury trial, if they insist.
Because of the complexities of the documents, tests, claims, timings and other issues, it’s usually wise to get legal representation, and you have a legal right to do so.