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Understanding Paternity in New York

Understanding Paternity in New York

Posted By Meyers Law Group, P.C. || 7-Jan-2014

What exactly is paternity in New York? It is a legal status, the status of being a father. Being a legal father means needing to fulfill duties in supporting a child, and sometimes having the rights to custody and visitation as well. Keep reading to find out how to establish paternity in New York, and what the benefits of this legal status are for the parents and the child.

First of all, there are a number of ways to establish paternity. If a child is born to someone who is married, then the spouse will be presumed the father. If a child is born to unmarried parents, however, there are two ways that paternity can be established. One way is that the parents can both sign a "Voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity", a document that parents agree to sign, stating that the man is the legal father of the child. A valid form requires that the parents sign in front of two witnesses who are unrelated to either parent. It is typical for this form to be signed in the hospital when the child is born, but it is also possible to fill this out later. This means that if there is any uncertainty about the father's identity, it is possible to wait to sign this form.

If both parents cannot agree to sign this form, then one parent can fill out a petition for paternity and submit this to a court. A paternity petition can be filed by the mother, a person who claims to be the father, the child, or the child's guardian. If the mother is on public benefits, then the Department of Social Services can file this petition. This petition can be filed from the time the mother is pregnant up until the time the child turns 21 years old (sometimes, this can be filed after the child is 21; for example, if a father had written beforehand that he was the father, or if he had paid child support, then paternity could still be established at a later date).

Once this has been filed, a court can order genetic tests on mother, child, and the potential father. If the results show that the man is the biological father, then the court produces an Order of Filiation. This is another court order signifying that this is the child's legal father. After this court order has been created, the father's name can be put on the child's birth certificate.

What are the benefits of establishing this legal status? The main benefits are for the child. One very practical benefit is the ability to access the child's full family medical history, something that can be absolutely necessary for the child's medical treatment. Establishing paternity could also provide a child with rights to veteran's benefits, inheritance, life insurance, child support, and more.

As for the parents, the mother benefits by her no longer being the sole provider for the child, having the father also pitch in, helping meet daily provisions for the child as well as their medical and educational needs, and more. The father benefits by gaining the opportunity to petition the court for custodial or visitation rights. Legal status as a father also means that the father can object to putting the child up for adoption.

To learn more about this legal process, do not hesitate to contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C. Our Long Island family law attorney can provide the legal advice and the representation that you deserve to have on your side. Learn how a dedicated legal advocate can protect you and your family's rights when you contact us today.