Paternity / Child Custody
For people that are not married when they have children together, the legal action to determine their respective rights and responsibilities is categorized as a paternity or child custody case, which is governed under chapter 257 of the Minnesota Statutes
When parties are married and have a child, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child and he does not have to establish paternity and the mother and father start on an equal legal footing. When the parties are not married, there is no presumption as to paternity and under the law the mother has sole custody until paternity and custody is formally established. See Minnesota Statute §257.541
Many couples agree on paternity and resolve the issue by signing what is called a Recognition of Parentage. See Minnesota Statute §257.75. In other cases, paternity can be established in a variety of way including but not limited to genetic testing. See Minnesota Statute §257.55 and §257.62. While fathers have no automatic rights to custody or parenting time, they have a right to establish their rights relative to custody and parenting time and each party’s responsibility to provide financially for their child(ren).
Essentially, the same standards that apply to custody and parenting time in a divorce action apply in a paternity/child custody action. See Minnesota Statute §257.025. When parties are not married when they have a child together, the issues can often be more delicate and sensitive then if the parties were married. Because of the hugely important and life long issues related to the parent/child relationship, it is wise investment to have an experienced attorney guide you through this process if you or a loved one find yourself in this situation. Feel free to call for more information.