New York Parental Equity Act Signed Into Law
Outdated attitudes about the importance of fathers in a child’s life still affect child custody matters in numerous ways. It might sound shocking to hear that an unmarried father’s financial difficulty could prevent him from reuniting with a son or daughter in foster care, but until a recently enacted law, this was the case.
In the first days of 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Parental Equity Act into law. This legislation holds that fathers and mothers are given equal treatment in custody matters. Previously, a father who was not married to his child’s mother did not have custody rights unless state records showed that he was paying child support. This affected many cases where a child was in foster care. Though New York law calls for families to be reunited whenever possible and safe, unmarried fathers deemed to be child support non-payers did not qualify as family.
While meeting a child’s financial needs is certainly important, there are reasons why a loving father might not be making payments according to the state, such as:
- Lack of a child support order — Relationships are complicated and there might be circumstances where a mother chooses not to seek an official child support order. She may not want any connection with the father of her child or might believe that he cannot provide adequate support.
- Financial troubles — A job loss, a medical problem or some other unexpected event could prevent a father from paying what he owes to his co-parent. When this occurs, the best solution is to seek a modification, but circumstances could make that very difficult. However, a temporary monetary setback does not change a father’s love for his child or his ability to provide loving guidance.
- Informal arrangements — Parents sometimes handle financial matters informally, especially if they are still living together. There could be cases where, shortly after a breakup, no order has been issued yet. This should not terminate a father’s ability to spend time with his child.
Fortunately, the new law is a victory for fathers’ rights and men can now demonstrate to judges and child protection authorities that they are capable of providing loving care to their sons and daughters, even if they are not considered child support providers in the state’s files.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is the Long Island leader in fathers’ rights cases and other family law matters. Please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online for an initial consultation.