It is taken for granted that when a child is born to a married woman her husband is the father. But when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity is not presumed. To be legally viewed as the child’s father and claim a father’s rights, paternity must be recognized, or a court order obtained. Depending on several elements, parents may share custody of their child, and these arrangements may vary.


A man who is the legal father of a child has certain paternity rights and obligations. In Minnesota, if a child’s parents are not married, the father is not automatically the “legal” father. He does not have paternity rights nor the duties of a legal father. Even if the man’s name is on the birth certificate, he is not the legal father if he is not married to the mother.

An unmarried mother and father can sign and file a Recognition of Parentage and the father then has a legal relationship with the child.

What such a form provides includes:

If the mother and father do not agree to a Recognition of Parentage, it may become necessary to establish paternity by court order. The services of a paternity lawyer can help achieve the best possible outcome. Also, though, a Recognition of Parentage will not establish custody or parenting time.


When a child is born to unwed parents, the custody rights of both parents are determined by default until either party seeks a court order for custody. If the father has only acknowledged paternity, or a court has established paternity, then by default, the mother has legal and physical custody of the child. Because of this, unwed fathers may find it difficult to take responsibility and gain access to their children. Either party may seek an order establishing their custody and parenting time rights.

In Minnesota, there are two types of child custody:

Parents, whether married or not, may share custody. This is called joint custody for the physical and/or legal custody of the child. Also, one of the parents my have sole physical and/or legal custody of the child.

There is any number of reasons why parents, whether unmarried, married, or seeking a divorce, would need guidance on the custody of their child or children. The arrangements for each child may need to be different as well.

Custody agreements sometimes need revising. A custody rights attorney can help you develop the adjustments for an appropriate agreement.

If you are in Minnesota and your child lives in another state, that may complicate your case. But a custody rights attorney at Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm is available to help you find a way through any impediments that arise.

An experienced paternity lawyer or custody rights lawyer with Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm can help parents navigate the paternity and custody rights process. We’ll help determine if the dispute can be settled outside of court, and work to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm at (763) 406-7000 for a free initial consultation.