Fatherhood includes certain obligations and rights. Once a child’s paternity is established, the father has the right to see him or her and be actively involved in his or her life. Even if he elects not to do so, then he still has both a moral and legal obligation to support the child.

When a child is conceived outside of marriage in New York, their paternity is not assumed, and if the parents want the paternity to become a matter of legal record, then there are ways that they may do so.

Acknowledgment of paternity forms

In New York, couples may complete paternity acknowledgment paperwork either at the hospital or at any time after the child is born. These forms are available at hospitals, local birth registrars, and district child support offices.

Once the document is notarized, to all intents and purposes the father who affirms paternity is the child’s legal parent and has the following rights and responsibilities:

  • To be involved in the child’s life
  • To provide sufficient levels of financial support
  • To have his name on his child’s birth certificate
  • To demand court-ordered custody and visitation; and
  • To have a say in adoption proceedings.

Couples who opt to establish paternity this way should be aware that submitting the form waives their rights to future DNA testing should any doubt ever arise.

DNA testing

If doubt exists about the identity of a child’s biological father, then the parents may petition the court to order DNA genetic testing. These tests, which are carried out on the mother and baby as well as alleged father, will enable the court to determine whether he is the legal father of the child. If the test results are positive, an order of filiation will be issued, legally confirming the father’s identity as well as the responsibilities that entails.

Why establishing paternity is important

An Acknowledgement of Paternity or conclusive DNA test does more than identify a child’s father. It also impacts important matters such as:

  • Child support obligations
  • Custody rights
  • Benefits such as Social Security
  • Inheritance rights

To ensure that both father and child enjoy these benefits, establishing paternity is extremely important. Doing so is the best way to protect the rights and interests of everyone involved.

If you are a father seeking to enjoy a rewarding relationship with your child or a mother who wants your son or daughter to have their father in their lives, then a New York family law attorney can give you the advice needed to accomplish these goals. Your attorney will have a practical and legal understanding of the methods and benefits of establishing paternity and will put their expertise and experience to work for you.

Jayson Lutzky has more than 34 years of experience helping individuals who are facing legal challenges. Mr. Lutzky is a family law attorney with an office in the Bronx and has helped many fathers over the years in paternity cases. Learn more at www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-office consultations. His office is bilingual in both English and Spanish and can be reached at 718-514-6619.