Minnesota Paternity Lawyer

When a child is born to parents that are not married, the mother of the child has sole custody of the child until the father establishes his rights in court.   Many men believe that signing a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form at the time of the child’s birth automatically gives them custodial and parenting time rights to the child. However, the signing of a ROP simply means the father is acknowledging he is the legal father and by doing so, he is financially responsible to help support the child.

If the parents of the child are living together or have an amicable relationship when a child is born there may seem to be no need for the father to establish custodial rights.  But what happens when the relationship falls apart?  Many men find they have no rights to see their child even if they have established a close relationship and have had consistent parenting time.  If the parents are unable to work out these issues, the father must bring a custody action.  Minnesota law provides that an initial establishment of custody and parenting time is based on what is in the best interest of the child.  There are 13 factors that are analyzed in any initial custody determination.  They are as follows:

(1) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody;

(2) the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

(3) the child’s primary caretaker;

(4) the intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child;

(5) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with a parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

(6) the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;

(7) the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

(8) the permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;

(9) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; except that a disability, as defined in section 363A.03, of a proposed custodian or the child shall not be determinative of the custody of the child, unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;

(10) the capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child’s culture and religion or creed, if any;

(11) the child’s cultural background;

(12) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, that has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual, whether or not the individual alleged to have committed domestic abuse is or ever was a family or household member of the parent; and

(13) except in cases in which a finding of domestic abuse as defined in section 518B.01 has been made, the disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.

Even if a couple is able to resolve custody and parenting time on their own, it is always advisable to have that agreement incorporated into a court order.  The ideal time to put this agreement in writing is when the parents are getting along as bringing a custody action when parents are at odds with each other can be costly, both financially and emotionally.

Contact the Law Office of Cynthia J Miller

If you or someone you know is in need of a qualified Minnesota Family Law Attorney, contact the Law Office of Cynthia J Miller today at (651) 336-4006. We offer two locations in Princeton and Minneapolis and provide free consultations.