Written by attorney Mary Katherine Brown

What should an unmarried father in New York know about parenting and the law?

New York: There is no legal definition of "Father" in any of the relevant statutes set forth below.

Soc. Serv. Law § 372-c pertains to the Paternity Registry in New York, and it states:

The Department of Social Services shall establish a putative father registry that shall record the names and addresses of:

• Any person adjudicated by a court of this State to be the father of a child born out of wedlock

• Any person who has filed with the registry, before or after the birth of a child out of wedlock, a notice of

intent to claim paternity of the child

• Any person adjudicated by a court of another State or territory of the United States to be the father of an out-

of-wedlock child, where a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry by such person or

any other person

• Any person who has filed with the registry an instrument acknowledging paternity

An unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity of a child may be introduced in evidence by any party, other than the person who filed such notice, in any proceeding in which such fact may be relevant.

Pub. Health Law § 4135-b provides an alternate means to establish paternity, it states:

Immediately preceding or following the in-hospital birth of a child to an unmarried woman, the person in charge of such hospital shall provide to the child’s mother and putative father, if such father is readily identifiable and available, the documents and written instructions necessary for such mother and putative father to complete an acknowledgment of paternity witnessed by two persons not related to the signatory.

Such acknowledgment, if signed by both parties, at any time following the birth of a child, shall be filed with the registrar at the same time at which the certificate of live birth is filed, if possible, or anytime thereafter.

Soc. Serv. Law § 372-c contains information that is required to establish paternity, which is:

A person filing a notice of intent to claim paternity of a child or an acknowledgment of paternity shall include therein his current address and shall notify the registry of any change of address pursuant to procedures prescribed by regulations of the department.

Soc. Serv. Law § 372-c pertains to revocation of paternity, it states:

A person who has filed a notice of intent to claim paternity may at any time revoke a notice of intent to claim paternity previously filed and, upon receipt of such notification by the registry, the revoked notice of intent to claim paternity shall be deemed a nullity nunc pro tunc.

And finally, Soc. Serv. Law § 372-c sets forth how and to whom information must be provided about paternity, it says:

The department shall, upon request, provide the names and addresses of persons listed with the registry to any court or authorized agency, and such information shall not be divulged to any other person, except upon order of a court for good cause shown.

Additional resources provided by the author

You can find the information above and more at the Child Welfare Information Gateway on online at

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