In Minnesota, paternity cases involve the establishment of the rights of fathers outside of a marital relationship. Once paternity is established, the court will focus on custody, parenting time and child support. Unless and until that happens, the mother of a child born outside of wedlock has sole authority.

Whether you’ve voluntarily ended your rights as a parent or suffered involuntary termination of parental rights, your life is about to change. Not only will your relationship with your child evolve considerably (or cease to exist), your financial situation may also look considerably different now that you’re freed of your previous rights and obligations. Read on to learn about the surprising relationship between the termination of parental rights and state assistance in Minnesota:

How Termination of Parental Rights Works in Minnesota

Before you understand how terminating your rights as a parent will impact your eligibility for state assistance, it is important that you understand what else is at stake.

Termination can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. Typically, involuntary termination occurs when the court has deemed you negligent as a parent. Either approach to termination will only occur if the court believes it is in the best interests of your child.

How Termination of Parental Rights Impacts State Assistance

First, it’s important to understand: termination of parental rights does not serve as a legitimate means of avoiding child support payments to a former partner. Courts generally regard maintaining relationships with both parents as in children’s best interests, so you aren’t likely to obtain terminated rights unless clear evidence of your incompetence as a parent exists. In some cases, however, termination of an absentee parent can improve the potential for obtaining assistance, particularly if the absentee parent neglects to provide mandated support. In other cases, termination may occur so that a stepparent can adopt the child.

Terminating your rights may impact your eligibility for various assistance programs. Often, assistance is calculated based on the number of individuals or dependents in your household. If your rights are terminated, however, your child will no longer be deemed part of your household.

As you proceed with your termination of parental rights case, don’t hesitate to seek counsel from an attorney you trust. The Brown Law Offices can help; reach out today to learn how.

In Minnesota, you can file a document with the state to recognize a man as father of your child even if you aren’t married to that man. It’s a voluntary action, and both adult parties must sign the document. If you know who the father of your child is, and he is willing to be recognized as the child’s father, the ROP offers a less expensive option than paternity testing. You can bypass many of the typical legal hoops you have to jump through to prove paternity.

It’s important that you and the father understand that signing the Recognition of Parentage form does not give the father any visitation or custody rights. It simply establishes the legal relationship between the man and the child.

The Benefits of ROP to the Father and Mother

Once the ROP is in place, the father can then petition the court to request visitation and custody rights. It also gives you the right to petition the court to force the father to provide financial support for the child, and you can obtain medical information about the father. The father also has the right to include the child on his medical and dental insurance policies. Here are the potential downsides; both parties lose the right to:

1. Genetic testing to prove fatherhood
2. Have an attorney represent them in court
3. Request a trial to prove paternity

After filing for an ROP, you can file another form to have it revoked within 60 days. If circumstances permit, you can petition a court to revoke your ROP after 60 days but within the first year, but this strategy is substantially more difficult to accomplish. If the man who signed your ROP is not the biological father of your child, and you have genetic testing to prove it, you have six months after obtaining that proof to revoke the Recognition of Parentage.

If you want to know more about ROP and paternity testing, contact a Minnesota family law attorney at 763-323-6555 right now.

You may wonder what happens if you are an unwed father to a newborn. Being a father means, naturally, taking on responsibility for your child, and making sure that you do what’s best for him or her. But what rights do you have as a father if you are not married to the mother of the child?


The term “paternity” refers to the “legal” father of a child under Minnesota law. Once paternity is established, a father has the responsibility to support their child financially. He may also seek a court order concerning parenting time and custody.

Of course, every child will have a biological mother and biological father. But, a child may not have a “legal” father. Under Minnesota law, if a newborn’s mother and father are not married to each other when the child is born, the father will not be considered the “legal” father until the necessary steps are taken.

An unwed father will have no legal rights to the child until he becomes the “legal” father. Even if the father’s name is on the newborn’s birth certificate, that is insufficient to declare him as the “legal” father.


A man (not married to the child’s mother) can become the “legal” father a child either through a signed “Recognition of Parentage” (ROP), or by court order.

Establishing paternity is the first step to gaining rights to access and decide issues surrounding health care, school issues, adoption, benefits, parenting time, financial support, and many other needs and issues surrounding a child.


In a case where the mother is married to a man who is not the biological father, a ROP form will not be enough to establish the biological father as the “legal” father. The husband of the mother must also sign a form known as the “Husband’s Non-Paternity Statement” within one year of the birth of the child.

Once these two forms are completed, it will finally establish a “legal” relationship between the biological father and child.


Once a ROP is signed, a father becomes responsible to support the child. However, under Minnesota law the mother of the child will have sole physical and legal custody. The ROP does not give any custody or parenting time to the father. In order to gain custody or parenting time, an action must be filed in family court.

Paternity must be established in order for the father of a child to seek physical custody, legal custody or parenting time with a child born outside of marriage. In the absence of establishing paternity, a father has no custodial rights, or the ability to exercise parenting time, unless the parties agree otherwise.

Minnesota law provides two ways for a father to establish paternity of a child: (1) a signed Recognition of Parentage; or (2) a court order.

A Recognition of Parentage (“ROP”) is signed by the parents of a child, at the hospital, shortly after the child’s birth. The execution of a ROP establishes the father-child link, allowing a father to move a court for physical custody, legal custody or parenting time.

In other circumstances, the mother, father or county (if public assistance has been received by mother) may establish paternity through a court proceeding. The father and child will participate in genetic testing to determine paternity. The issues of physical custody, legal custody and parenting time may be addressed in the same court case. A case may be filed in court anytime until the child reaches 18 years of age.