No Custody Rights for Unwed Fathers Until Paternity Established
When children are born outside of a marital relationship to unwed parents, Minnesota law presumes that the birth mother retains both sole legal and physical custody of that child until a birth father establishes paternity. Once paternity is established, a father may then seek custodial rights and parenting time rights.
There are a variety of ways that paternity can be established. For instance, if a birth father signs the child’s birth certificate or a Recognition of Parentage, paternity will be established. Additionally, genetic tests and/or an agreement reached by both parties may suffice for establishing paternity. It is important to remember that if any of these presumptions of paternity are present, it still does not yet grant an unmarried father custodial or parenting time rights. In order for paternity to be conclusively established, unmarried fathers will need a court order that determines them to be the father. Once a father is conclusively determined to be the father, then he is entitled to request custodial or parenting time rights, and can even do so in the same court action.
No Child Support for Unmarried Mothers Until Paternity Established
Conversely, an unmarried mother is not entitled to child support until paternity can be established. The reason for this is because as a matter of public policy, it would not be fair to make someone obligated for the support of a child unless they can be conclusively proven to be the father of the child. Once paternity is established, however, a Minnesota judge may award child support.