Q: My name is listed on the birth certificate as the father. Doesn’t that mean I’m already the legal father?

Answer: Generally yes. In Minnesota, if you are not married to the mother then your name should only be listed as the father on the birth certificate if your paternity has already been decided. An unmarried mother is not allowed just to put any man’s name on the birth certificate—only a legal father is supposed to be on the birth certificate. However, there are sometimes when an unmarried father’s name mistakenly appears on the birth certificate even though his paternity is not established. This may happen, for example, if the parents report they are married when the child is born, even though they are not legally married. (A husband’s name can be listed on the birth certificate because he is presumed by law to be the legal father.)

Once you sign an ROP and it is filed with the State, the State changes the child’s birth record to reflect the father’s name. To change the birth record when your paternity was established by a court order, the court order must state that the father is the legal father and that his name and other information is to be added to the child’s birth record. If the child’s last name is to be changed, the court order must also state that the child’s last name is to be changed on the birth record. There is a fee to change the birth record when there is a court order. Sometimes, if the court order establishing paternity goes to the State directly from the court of the county, the parents are not charged the fee.