In Minnesota, unwed parents can execute a Recognition of Parentage (ROP and pronounced as “rope”) at the birth of a child. A ROP is a sworn statement by both parents that the man is the father of the child. Many parents believe that once a ROP is signed that both parents have equal rights in the child. This is not true. Rather, if a child is born outside of the marriage, the Mother maintains full legal and physical custody until a Court Order states otherwise. This leads many to ask why the option to execute a ROP even exists.

The ROP provides the basis for a father to ask for custody and parenting time without needing to submit to a DNA test. A DNA test would be required if the parents disagreed on who the father of the child is. It also allows for Child Support to be pursued without the need for a DNA test (again assuming the parents disagree on who the biological father is).

So what is the benefit of getting a Court Order versus simply signing a ROP?

I have provided the below chart to help outline the differences.



Court Order


Custody (physical and legal) remain with the Mother

Awards a parent or both parents custody (legal custody, physical custody or a combination of both)

Parenting Time

Parenting time not a right for the Father. Remains with Mother.

Court can award a parenting schedule that both parents must follow.

Child Support

Allows child support to be pursued through Court action.

Sets a monthly child support obligation that is enforceable.


No enforceability in Court.

Parents must follow the Court Order and may face repercussions for failure to do so.

It is best to think of a ROP as a starting point if the parents will eventually need a Court to intervene. It is not required, though, to start a Court action.

Understand that custody and parenting time can be agreed on by the parties without having a Judge make the decision for them. Parents can have attorneys memorialize an agreement to be submitted to the Court for final approval.

If you have any questions regarding a Recognition of Parentage, please call me today at 952-800-2025 or reach out via our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

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