Counting Dad In — Or Out

Paternity matters on Long Island

There are good reasons my clients are interested in establishing the paternity of their child. Paternity underpins the rights of fathers and mothers in the following ways:

  • For a father, parenting rights hinge on being named the biological father of a child.
  • A man considered the father of a child, but who suspects he is not, can relinquish parenting rights and child support obligations by proving he is not the biological father.
  • For a mother, the declaration of a man as the biological father of her child ensures child support.
  • If a mother does not want to share child custody, genetic paternity testing can prove that a man has no biological relation to a child and, therefore, no parenting rights.

In New York, the husband of a married woman is usually presumed to be the father of her child. Unmarried couples who wish to establish the paternity of their child can easily do so at birth, by completing an Acknowledgment of Paternity — or later, by petitioning the court for an Order of Filiation.

For couples trying to prove or disprove paternity, the process starts with a petition. A hearing is held before a judge or referee, to hear testimony and examine evidence. Both parties have the right to legal counsel. If no issues arise, a court will grant the Order of Filiation. In a contested case, genetic testing can be ordered for the mother, father and child.

The rights of both the mother and the father come into play during these actions. We aggressively represent women who need child support from the father of their child, in order to provide proper care. At the same time, we are committed to fathers who are either deprived of parenting rights or obligated to provide support for children who are not their own.

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