Establishing paternity (legal fatherhood)

Establishing parentage gives a child born outside of marriage a legal father and the same legal rights as a child conceived or born to married parents.

If the parties are not married when the child is born, paternity can be established in one of two ways:

Recognition of parentage (ROP)

If the parents are not married to each other at the time of the child's conception or birth, paternity can be established through a voluntary Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form signed and filed with the Minnesota Department of Health. Biological parents can sign the ROP at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or at a county child support office. If the husband is not the biological father, the husband may sign a non-paternity statement, which must be filed with the ROP signed by the mother and biological father.

Before signing a ROP form, parents should watch the following paternity video.

If one of the parents is a minor (under age 18) at the time the ROP is signed, MNPrairie will pursue an in-court adjudication of paternity before requesting child support be established.

In-court adjudication

If parents are not married to each other at the time of the child’s conception or birth and the biological parents have not signed and filed a ROP, a petition can be filed with the court to get a court order to declare paternity.

What is genetic testing?

County child support offices use a buccal swab to collect DNA from the cells on the inside of the mother’s, father’s and child’s cheek. Genetic testing is available at all county child support offices or can be obtained privately.

For more information about establishing parentage, see the Minnesota Department of Human Services website

Being a legal father

Information from the state courts
Recognition of Parentage process
Paternity court

Translated forms
Recognition of Parentage - English (PDF)
Recognition of Parentage - Hmong (PDF)
Recognition of Parentage - Spanish (PDF)
Recognition of pPrentage - Somali (PDF)