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A parent’s rights with respect to a child born outside of marriage depend partially upon the actions of the parties at the time of the child’s birth. Minnesota law grants sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor child to the mother until a Court orders otherwise after appropriate proceedings. If the father of the child wants to assure his rights, he either has to obtain an agreement with the mother which is filed as an order of the Court or he has to take some legal action. What legal action he must take depends on what happened when the child was born.


If the parents have signed a Recognition of Parentage at the time of the birth of the minor child, paternity is already established. Absent an agreement, a father seeking custody and/or parenting time must bring a motion before the Court to clarify his rights.

If the parents have not signed a Recognition of Parentage for the minor child, without an agreement, the father will have to prepare and serve a paternity complaint/petition to establish that he is the father of the child. Unless the parties stipulate to paternity, this action will likely required DNA testing and the Court will order it done if requested to do so.  Some of my clients have done paternity testing using the DNA Diagnostic Center in Minneapolis with good success.

Any agreement between a mother and father of a child born outside of marriage must be in writing and filed as an order with the Court to be enforceable.

In any paternity proceedings, the parties will have to address custody, parenting time and the support of the child. If they are unable to agree, the Court will decide. If you have questions, call for a free telephone consultation at

(952) 894-8380
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