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Securing Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers

Securing Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers

May 14, 2024

By Jennie Hanson

Securing Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers

May 14, 2024

By Jennie Hanson

Securing Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers in Minnesota: A Practical Guide

Navigating the legal landscape to secure parental rights can be particularly challenging for unmarried fathers. At Johnson/Turner, we understand the importance of establishing these rights not only to foster and maintain a loving relationship with your child but also to ensure your legal responsibilities and privileges as a parent are recognized. This blog post outlines practical steps and legal insights to help unmarried fathers in Minnesota understand and secure their parental rights.

Understanding Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers

In Minnesota, unlike married fathers, unmarried fathers are not automatically presumed to have parental rights to their child. These rights include legal and physical custody, as well as the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, health care, and religious training.

Establishing Paternity: The First Step

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity: At birth, if both parents agree on the father’s paternity, they can fill out a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form. This is the simplest way to establish paternity but does not automatically grant custody or parenting time rights.
  2. Court Action: If the mother contests the paternity or if the father wishes to establish his rights beyond paternity, such as custody or visitation, the father may need to go to court. This will involve a paternity test and the court’s declaration of paternity.

Legal Rights After Paternity is Established

Once paternity is established, unmarried fathers have the right to seek custody and parenting time. However, securing these rights involves additional legal steps:

  1. Custody and Parenting Time: Unmarried fathers need to petition the court to grant legal and physical custody or parenting time. This process requires proving that it is in the best interest of the child to have the father involved to the extent being requested.
  2. Child Support: Establishing paternity also means that the father has the responsibility to support the child financially. Both parents are obligated to support their child, and the court will determine the amount based on guidelines that consider both parents’ income, the cost of raising a child, and the time the child spends with each parent.

Practical Tips for Unmarried Fathers

  • Stay Engaged: Be actively involved in your child’s life. Attend medical appointments, school events, and extracurricular activities. Document your involvement as this information can be crucial in court.
  • Document Communication: Keep records of any communication with the child’s mother regarding your child. This can include discussions about visitation, health issues, education, and other parental responsibilities.
  • Seek Legal Counsel: Engage with a family law attorney who specializes in fathers’ rights. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance through the process of establishing paternity, securing custody or visitation rights, and handling child support matters.
  • Educate Yourself: Understand your rights and responsibilities by researching Minnesota’s family law statutes or attending workshops and seminars for unmarried parents.

How Johnson/Turner Can Help

At Johnson/Turner, we are committed to advocating for fathers’ rights and helping unmarried fathers navigate the complexities of family law to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with their children. We believe in empowering our clients with the knowledge and legal representation they need to successfully secure their parental rights.

If you are an unmarried father seeking to establish or contest paternity, or if you need assistance with custody and parenting time issues, contact us today. Let us help you take the necessary steps to protect your relationship with your child and ensure your rights are recognized and respected under the law.


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