Sometimes the laws surrounding paternity can be quite confusing and complicated, and can differ from state to state. In New York, there is a very specific process for determining paternity, and often it's up to the courts to decide who the real father is. Here is information about paternity in New York State and how to go about the process of establishing paternity over a child.
Just because you're the biological father, it doesn't mean that you're necessarily the child's legal parent unless you have signed an "Acknowledgment of Paternity". This is usually signed at the hospital when the child is born, but if you opt not to sign it, you will not have paternity of your child until you do so. The other way to establish paternity is through an "Order of Filiation" which involves a court order that indicates you are the legal father of the child, even if you are not the biological father. In order to receive an "Order of Filiation", you must petition for this request in family court.
In cases where a child is born to a mother who is already married, the husband is then automatically considered the father, even if he is not the biological father. However, a court can decide at a later point that he is not the father, and that the biological father should be considered the rightful father, or even someone else. In such cases where someone else wants to claim paternity, a paternity petition must be delivered to the husband informing him about the paternity suit. From there, a judge will hear the facts of the case, all evidence concerning paternity, including potential DNA tests, and determine who should have paternity in the end.
Who Is Eligible For Filing a Paternity Petition
A paternity petition can be filed by many parties, including the child's mother, a man who thinks he is the father of a child, a child and the guardian of a child. The Department of Social Services can also file a paternity petition on behalf of a child if the child is receiving social assistance. As a result, they can actually request an Order of Affiliation against you if they believe you are the father.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity
In New York, even if you are the biological father, if you are not married to your child's mother, you have no actual right to visitation or custody of your child unless you are legally considered the father. You also will have no obligation to pay child support either. That's why it's important to establish yourself as the legal father if you want the same rights as the mother of the child, especially if you're not married.
Ultimately, many cases involving paternity can become complicated, especially if more than one man wants to claim paternity of a child. However, the above information should provide you with a better idea of how paternity works in New York State and help you move through family court with a better understanding of this process. If you would like to petition for an Order of Filiation, then contact a family law attorney at a firm like Ivy Law Group PLLC.