Fathers have certain rights and obligations. They have the opportunity to claim custody and visitation rights, enroll their children onto their health insurance and leave them an inheritance. On the flip side, they generally have an obligation to support their children financially (i.e., child support).
However, none of these fatherly rights and obligations can be enforced without first establishing paternity. In New York State, paternity can be established a couple different ways, including the following.
When a married women gives birth, it is automatically assumed that her husband is the father.
Acknowledgement of Paternity
When a child is born out of wedlock, the couple is given the opportunity to sign an acknowledgement of paternity, which names the biological father as the legal father. This form has serious legal ramifications and should only be signed if there is no doubt about the father’s identity.
Order of Filiation
Sometimes, when the parties do not agree about the identity of the father, they may seek a court order establishing paternity.
When a paternity petition is filed in family court, a hearing will be held during which both parties will present evidence.
It should be noted that the court will not decide paternity if the child in question was born while the mother was married to another man, or if another man was already named as the child’s legal father (e.g., by signing an acknowledgement of paternity).
If the parties still disagree, the court will order a DNA test. The court will then issue an order of filiation naming the legal father according to the results of the test.
Vindicating your rights starts with the right divorce attorney
Family law is often messy, emotional, and even traumatic – after all, there may be serious stakes for you and your loved ones.
An experienced family lawyer appreciates the circumstances facing his clients and the trying nature of the ordeal before them. Thus, they see themselves as more than legal professionals in a suit but as advocates and counselors.
New York City residents shouldn’t hesitate to reach out. If cost is a concern, many lawyers offer a free initial consultation at no out-of-pocket cost to the client.