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Minnesota law automatically assumes that children born out of marriage are the husband’s biological children with full paternal rights. Outside of marriage, when both parents agree to a man’s biological paternity, they can avoid the need for genetic testing by signing a Minnesota Voluntary Recognition of Parentage Form. While this process affords fathers with certain rights, when it comes to child custody and other parenting rights, they may need to seek help from experienced attorneys.

Agreements Between Unmarried Biological Parents Only Go so Far

When both biological parents agree to recognize fatherhood in Minnesota, that agreement can help establish relationships between fathers and their children. However, from a legal standpoint, it is largely an administrative recognition that helps only with issues such as the following:

  • It permits a father’s name to appear on birth records.
  • It establishes parentage without going to court.
  • It allows children to be included on fathers’ on health and dental insurance policies as well as for Social Security and veterans benefits, inheritance rights and other benefits.
  • It ensures that fathers are notified in the event of any adoption proceedings.
  • It helps fathers stay involved with the children without providing any absolute guarantees.

While voluntary recognition of parentage provides a relatively simple way for fathers to establish a legal link with their children, it removes the right to obtain genetic testing to confirm parentage (although testing is permitted prior to signing the form). Additionally, since it does not require intervention by the courts, it provides an inexpensive means for determining parentage.

Voluntary Recognition of Parentage Opens the Doors to Other Rights

A major value of a Minnesota Voluntary Recognition of Parentage Form is that it acts like a key to the court system. When a father asserts parentage of children, mothers have the right to ask for financial support — and they can also ask for medical information about the legal father, which can potentially save a child’s life.

Similarly, while voluntary recognition of parentage does not give fathers automatic rights to parenting time or custody, it can be an important first step toward asking the courts for these rights. In fact, in some cases, fathers might even have the right to legally change the child’s last name. Absent DNA information that provides evidence, the fact that both parents agree to parentage is virtually essential to requesting further parenting rights from the courts.

Establishing parentage of a child is a major step that may not work out as expected by signing a form. Before signing on the dotted line, both biological parents should consult with an experienced paternity lawyer to learn the potential advantages and disadvantages of taking this route. For some people, it might make sense to go through a simple genetic test process or involve the courts. To make sure you understand all your options, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.