Often parents decide their child's name together. If the parents aren't married to each other, the mother has the right to choose her child's name. The child's last name can be any name, including the last name of the mother, father or both. The name chosen for your child in the hospital will be put on your child's birth record.
If you are filing a Recognition of Parentage form, you have an opportunity to change your child's last name on the birth record. On the Recognition of Parentage form, check the box in the child's information section and fill in the new last name. When the Office of Vital Records files the Recognition of Parentage, they will add the father's name and change your child's last name on the birth record .
You cannot use the Recognition of Parentage to change your child's first or middle names. Also, if parentage is already established, you cannot use the Recognition of Parentage to change your child's last name. You will need to contact the Office of Vital Records to find out how to change your child's name.
If a child's parents are not married when the child is born, the law automatically gives the mother both physical and legal custody. Parents can make voluntary arrangements. The child can live with the father if both parents agree.
A legal father has the right to ask the court to give him physical and legal custody of his child. The court will look at what is best for the child before deciding custody. The Recognition of Parentage does not give the father custody.
If the parents cannot agree on parenting time (visitation), both parents have the right to ask the court to set parenting time. The Recognition of Parentage does not give the father parenting time or rights to visit a child.
Parents may make decisions together about how their child is raised. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions about how a child is raised. If you and the other parent cannot agree on these decisions, either of you can ask the court to decide. These decisions could be about your child's school, medical care or religion.
Joint legal custody gives both of you access to your child's school and medical records and allows both of you to be told about an accident or serious illness of your child.
You can sign the Recognition of Parentage even if you think your child may be adopted. As a legal father, you would then be notified of adoption proceedings. Having both parents participate in the adoption of their child is best for the child.
If you have not established parentage and you think that you are the child's biological father, you can register with the Minnesota's Fathers' Adoption Registry. The registry provides a way for you to be notified if a petition to adopt the child is ever filed in Minnesota. You can register before the child's birth, but no later than 30 days after the birth. Your registration will identify you as an interested father but not a legal father. For more information, contact:
Fathers' Adoption Registry
Minnesota Department of Health
P. O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN 55164-0882