Establishing paternity means to make the biological father the legal father.
If the mother is married at the time of birth, Minnesota law presumes that she and her spouse are the legal parents of the child.
If the mother is unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, Minnesota law recognizes her as the legal parent. She has sole physical and legal custody until there is a court order stating otherwise.
Two ways to establish paternity if the parents are not married to each other
Recognition of parentage
If the mother is not married to anyone else, the parents can sign and file a Recognition of Parentage with the Department of Vital Statistics. This can only be used if the parties are the biological parents.
If the mother is married to someone else who is not the father, he can sign a document called a “non-paternity joinder.“ Filing the joinder at the Department of Vital Statistics together with the Recognition of Parentage establishes paternity. This only applies if the child is less than one year old.
A court action to establish paternity can be started by the mother, father, or the child support office.
Genetic testing is encouraged prior to signing a Recognition of Parentage or admitting paternity.
The child support office can help you:
- With the Recognition of Parentage form
- Begin the paternity court process
- Arrange for genetic testing if either party applies for child support services or if the child receives public assistance
If either the mother or the alleged father has any doubts about who the biological father is, they should have genetic testing done before admitting paternity.
For more information
From the state courts:
From the MN Department of Human Services: