When a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the woman's husband is automatically assumed to be the child's "legal father." This is understandably – by default.
But when a child is born out of wedlock, the child's biological father has no legal claims to his child unless he voluntarily signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity, a document stating that he declares himself to be his child's father.
Usually, unwed fathers who have knowledge of and admit to being a child's father, sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity directly at the hospital, shortly after the child is born.
When a biological father was not aware of his child's birth, or when the presumed father could not be found, or when the presumed father has doubt that he is the child's biological father, paternity may be established through an "order of filiation," an official court order declaring that a man is a child's legal father.
If there is question over who a child's biological father is, or if a man does not believe that he is a child's father, then the mother or the presumed father may petition the court to establish paternity by seeking an "order of filiation."
A Father's Legal Rights to His Child
If a child is born to parents who are not married, the presumed father will have no legal right to custody or visitation, nor will he be obligated to support his child, unless paternity is legally established through voluntarily signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity (usually at the hospital) or through a court order of filiation.
When an unmarried couple was in love and together, signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity may have not been their top priority because they planned on raising their child together, but when such couples split, establishing paternity for child support and child custody reasons becomes a priority.
In New York paternity cases, often the child's mother is motivated to establish paternity for the purposes of child support, while the presumed father is motivated because he wants to ensure that he has rights to child custody and visitation.
Paternity is established by means of a blood or DNA test, which is a simple, painless test where a cotton swab, resembling a Q-tip is gently swiped inside the cheek to collect a sample of DNA-rich saliva.
If you have further questions about paternity actions in Nassau County, contactJason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. for a free case evaluation.