In the state of New York, when a child is born to unwed parents, the child does not have a legal father.
In New York parents can establish paternity, or fatherhood, by signing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or by petitioning the court to determine paternity. While every child has a biological father, when the parents aren’t married, the child doesn’t have a legal father. This means the biological father has no rights or responsibilities to his child. Therefore, in order for a father in New York to have legal rights, he must first establish paternity for the child.
Once paternity is established, the child can enjoy the same rights and benefits that are afforded to children born to married parents. There are many emotional and financial benefits to establishing paternity for all involved, some of which include:
Mothers receive numerous benefits from establishing paternity, they can get help with child care if the father lives in the area, they can obtain information about the father’s medical history, their financial security can improve, and they may be able to get medical insurance for the child if it’s available.
For fathers, once paternity is established their parental rights are made official, their name can be on their child’s birth certificate, they gain the right to seek court ordered custody and visitation, and they have the right to have a say in adoption proceedings.
When parents aren't married, they can follow two paths to establishing paternity. The parents can sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which is available at the hospital, local child support offices, and local birth registrars. Or, either parent can file a petition in order to have the court determine paternity.
The New York courts warn that if either parent has any doubt about the identity of the biological father, that the parents do not sign the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. Instead, parents should go through the courts to determine paternity. Once a petition for paternity has been filed, the court will order that the mother, father, and child submit to a genetic test. If the test determines that the man is the biological father, then the court will issue what is referred to as an order of filiation; this will declare that the man is the child’s father. Once the court has issued an order of filiation, the mother or the father can seek out an order for child support.
Establishing paternity is a very critical issue for mothers and fathers and the outcome of such proceedings can have a major impact on all the parties involved, both emotionally and financially. Whether you are a mother or a father who wishes to establish paternity, it’s a wise idea to weigh this situation heavily as your life will never be the same.
Establishing paternity can be a wonderful thing but if you are a mother whose child’s father has not been in their life, you will want to consider that along with an order to pay child support, the child’s father may also be allowed to seek custody and visitation of your child. In paternity matters the first order of business is discussing your situation with a qualified attorney who can give you legal advice and who can inform you of how best to move forward.
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