The face of the American family has been changing over the last few decades. Where it used to be unusual or taboo to have a child without the benefit of marriage, this is no longer the case. People often have children before they are married or may decide never to get married at all. When a couple is married at the time of a child’s birth, the husband is presumed to be the biological father of the child. There is no such presumption when the couple is not married. If the father is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, the father needs to take extra steps to establish paternity. In Minnesota, a simple document can be signed at the time of the child’s birth called the Recognition of Parentage.
Recognition of Parentage (also called “ROP”) states that the mother and father signing the document both swear the father is the child’s biological father. Once the document is properly executed, the father is presumed to be the legal father. This means the father has the right to petition the court for parenting time or custody. Similarly, the mother has the right to bring a child support action against the father. Note that the ROP does not automatically give the father a parenting time schedule. In order to set up a parenting time schedule, the parents will either have to agree or the father will have to go to court to get a court-ordered schedule. Once the ROP is properly executed, the father will have the right to include the child on his medical or dental insurance without seeking further court intervention, which is particularly important when the parents are residing together as a couple. Even if the parents live together and are romantically involved, without the ROP, the father will not be able to add the child to any insurance policies.
Once the ROP is signed by both the parents, there is a window of sixty days wherein the father can seek to revoke the ROP. In other words, if he signs the ROP but a month later discovers he is not the biological father, the ROP can be undone. After a sixty days, the process to undo the ROP becomes much more complicated, and after a year, it may not be possible at all.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with their rights and responsibilities concerning children when parties are not married. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and we can talk with you about your child.