There are many benefits to being legally recognized as the parent of a child.   In Minnesota, an unmarried father can voluntary sign a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) with his child’s mother, or establish paternity through family court.  Upon recognition or adjudication of legal parentage, a father has the right to seek custody and parenting time through family court, and be legally obligated to pay child support to the child’s mother. 

Some parents who do not have lawful immigration status may hesitate to complete paperwork or navigate the court system out of fear of contact with immigration authorities while trying to assert their rights.  Myths persist and hesitations lead to inaction.  However, many parents do establish their rights and enjoy happy and secure relationships with their children, even if they are not married to their mothers, and family courts welcome fathers who can prove that they have sufficient income to pay child support (whether earned with employment authorization or not).   It is far more beneficial for unmarried, undocumented fathers to be recognized as legal fathers to their children if they want to eventually apply for an immigration benefit. 

Now, following President Obama’s historic announcement of the Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) Program on November 20, 2014, undocumented parents should be highly motivated to take the proper steps to establish their parentage to their children here in the U.S.  Family law attorneys are sure to be busy with new cases for fathers who wish to be officially recognized as fathers to their U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident children as a result of President Obama’s executive action.  While the specific immigration application process is still in the works and there are other eligibility requirements that must be met, fathers should take this opportunity to not only establish their paternity to their child and be added to the child’s birth certificate, but also gather proof of how they have held their child out as their own.  This is something that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will require when determining eligibility for DAP.  If a father is granted DAP, he will be allowed to legally remain in the U.S. for 3 years with employment authorization and a social security number.  Employment authorization will mean that many fathers will be able to have better job opportunities, more choices for work schedules, and an increase in their income.  These are all factors that can help alleviate the stress for working parents who want to have quality time with their children.   

If you would like more information about establishing parental rights, please contact Wilson Law Group at 612-436-7100 for a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.