If a child is born in New York to two parents that are not married to one another, that child is seen as not having a father in the state. While recent changes in society have determined that marriage is no longer necessary to have a successful and loving family, family law has not caught up to the trend. Fathers of children born outside of marriage must establish paternity in order to have a legal claim to the child.
Establishing Paternity is Important for Father & Child
Those that are married at the time of their child's birth do not have to prove paternity under New York law. It is presumed that the husband is the legal father of the child. For those that are unmarried, paternity must be established before the father has legal rights over the child.
There are two ways to determine paternity in New York:
- Signing a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
- Petitioning the court
The Acknowledgement of Paternity can be signed in the hospital when the baby is born or in child support offices and birth registrars after the child is home from the hospital.
In instances where paternity may be doubted, it may be helpful to go to the court to determine paternity. The court will require that the parents undergo genetic testing and will issue an order of filiation to the father if it is determined that he is the biological father of the child.
When paternity is established, a child will be able to have the names of both parents on their birth certificate, receive medical or life insurance from both parents, and receive financial support in the form of inheritance, Social Security, and child support.
Fathers that establish paternity for their child have the right to seek court-ordered custody and visitation if they are no longer together with the child's mother and may have a right to make legal decisions on the behalf of the child.