Unmarried Fathers & Legal Rights To Their Children


What do you mean I have no parental access rights to my child?
What do you mean she has sole legal and physical custody unless I go to Court?

Repeatedly, unmarried fathers come to us and ask these questions. The law does not treat married fathers and unmarried fathers the same. The reasons why go back a long ways, having to do with preservation and encouragement of the nuclear family.

Now, it is more common that people have children “out of wedlock.” When the child is born, the hospital will present the unmarried parents with a form entitled Recognition of Paternity. By signing the form, a legal paternity relationship is created but no parental access rights are given to the father.

The Paternity law in Minnesota gives the unmarried mother sole legal and physical custody of the child, unless there is a court order stating otherwise. With no court order in place, the mother may withhold the child from the father at her discretion. The father then must go to court and ask the court for legal and physical custody rights to his own child.

Many fathers that were not married to the mother of their child are very dismayed to find out that the mother may withhold the child at will with no custody agreement. To protect their rights, unmarried fathers should have a written custody agreement in place.


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