Information for Unmarried Fathers in New York

These days, more and more children are being born out of wedlock, meaning, a child's mother and father are not married at the time of birth. While there is little question about a child's biological relationship with their mother, there is question about the identity of the child's biological father.

If you are a father and you were never married to your child's mother, this presents challenges, especially if you are no longer in an intimate relationship with your son or daughter's mother.

New York law automatically presumes that a woman's husband is the father of her child, but when the parents are not married, paternity must be legally established. Until this happens, a presumed father has zero rights or responsibilities to his child. This means he cannot ask the court for custody or visitation, nor can he be compelled by the court to pay child support.

Are you your child's legal father?

Perhaps you are sure that you are your child's biological father, after all, your child's mother openly admits it. Unless you are legally married to your child's mother, you are not the legal father. Unless you take the proper steps, your name will not be on your son or daughter's birth certificate.

Two ways to establish paternity in New York:

  1. You and your child's mother sigh a form called a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Usually, parents sign this form shortly after a child's birth at the hospital, but it can also be signed at a family court, birth registrar's office, or child support agency office.
  2. You file a court action to decide on the issue of paternity. If you go this route, you hire an attorney and you appear in court. A DNA sample will be taken from you and the sample will be compared to the child's DNA.

Usually, presumed fathers choose the second option when they are not sure they are a father of a child, or when they do not think the child is theirs. If you are not 100% sure the child is yours, you should not sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity.

DNA tests are highly accurate and if there is any question about paternity, these tests will confirm whether or not you are the child's father.

If the tests confirm that you are the father, the court issues an order of filiation, which will say that you are the child's father. From there, the court will decide on how much child support you will have to start paying.

In New York, the child percentages are as follows:

  • One child is 17%
  • Two children is 25%
  • Three children is 29%
  • Four children is 31%
  • Five or more children is at least 35%

Note: Legal fathers must pay child support in New York, even if they are receiving workers' compensation benefits, disability, or unemployment.

To learn more about your father's rights under New York law, contact our Nassau County family law firm. Take advantage of our free consultation!