An Overview of Paternity
Long Island Family Lawyer
Paternity is the term by which a father is granted legally enforceable rights and responsibilities to his child. Paternity may be established in one of three ways.
- If the parties are married, New York presumes the husband to be the father of any children of the marriage. This presumption can be rebutted.
- Paternity can be established by the proper execution of an acknowledgment of paternity if the parties are not married.
- Paternity can be established by a court order.
Determining Paternity: The Process
A paternity proceeding is commenced in Family Court by the filing of a verified petition from the party seeking to establish paternity. If the parties are not married, prior to a court issuing an order of child support, paternity must be established. If the woman is married, her husband must usually be named as a party to the proceeding.
Once the parties are in court, they have the option to consent to an order of paternity. Consenting to an order of paternity means that there is no question as to who is the father of the child, and that neither side is requesting blood or DNA tests. It is very difficult to overturn a consent order of paternity, so if there is any question of paternity, the order should not be entered on consent. Such an order may very well stand even if down the road it is found that the legal father is not the biological father.
Court- Ordered Paternity Tests
If there is no consent order of paternity, the court will generally order blood or DNA tests. Once the results of the blood or DNA tests are known, the parties once again will generally have the option to consent to an order of paternity, or request a hearing.
If the case goes to a hearing, it is the party seeking to establish paternity to prove paternity by clear and convincing evidence. If, however, the probability of paternity in the blood or DNA tests is 95% or higher, New York law presumes the man is the father, and it is now his burden to overcome this presumption. At the end of the hearing, the court will consider all properly introduced evidence, and either issue an order of paternity or dismiss the paternity petition.
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