New York Paternity Lawyer

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The issue of paternity arises when a man wants to prove that he is the father of a child and therefore wants his parenting rights to be enforced or when the mother of a child wants child support from a man she claims to be the father of her child. Let us review some of the frequently asked questions regarding paternity and how a lawyer can help in these cases.

What is Paternity?

Paternity is the legal status of being a child’s father. A person with this legal status has father responsibilities and rights to the child in question. This includes the right to custody and visitation.

According to New York law, if two people are married during the time their child is born, the husband is considered the child’s legal father. However, if two people are not married during the time their child is born, the father has no legal duties and rights to the child. In such cases, paternity needs to be established for the parents and child to secure specific rights.

How is Paternity Established?

The two ways unmarried couples can establish paternity in New York is through an acknowledgment of paternity and an order of filiation.

Acknowledgment of Paternity

If both parents agree on the identity of a child’s father, they can sign an acknowledgment of paternity form. This agreement states that the person who has appended his signature on the form is the legal father of the child. A valid acknowledgment of paternity must be witnessed by two people who are not related to the parents.

Order of Filiation

An order of filiation, also known as a paternity petition, is a request for the court to hold a paternity hearing. The court will order for a genetic testing on the alleged father, the mother, and the child. If the DNA tests confirm the biological father of the child, he will be issued with an “order of filiation”. This is a court order that declares the legal father of a child. After this order has been given, the legal father’s name is appended on the child’s birth certificate.

Filing a Paternity Petition

A paternity petition can be filed by the individual alleging to be the child’s father, by the child’s mother, by the child’s guardian, by the Department of Social Services, and also by the child. In New York, a paternity petition is valid as long as it is brought between the time a woman is pregnant and before the child reaches 21 years.

How Can a Lawyer Help in Paternity Cases?

While parents can represent themselves when filing a paternity petition, involving a lawyer is necessary in complex cases. In cases where the mother of a child is married to another person other than the child’s father, or where the child’s father signed an acknowledgment of paternity but revoked it later, a lawyer can come in handy.

There are cases where an unmarried couple separates and the mother of the child wants to claim child support, in such situations a lawyer can be helpful in filing a paternity petition and reinstating the mother’s claim of child support. Similarly, when a couple is separated and the mother leaves with the child, the father, with the help of a lawyer, can reinstate his legal rights as a father by filing a paternity petition.