Unmarried persons with children sometimes need to establish the paternity of a child and New York law provides a vehicle for doing so. Paternity legally defines who a child's father is. If a father's name is not on the child's birth certificate, a judgement of paternity by the courts can establish his rights and responsibilities with respect to the child. Fathers also then have rights to seek custody, visitation and child support for the child once paternity is established.
An unmarried mother may also wish to establish that a particular man is the father of her child. By doing so, she may be able to access child support and medical insurance for the benefit of the child and share responsibility for parenting the child. Determining that a man is a child's father allows the child access to potentially important paternal health history information that may be necessary for their well-being.
There are two methods by which unmarried people can establish paternity in New York. If they agree, the man can sign a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form at a local child support office, birth registrar or hospital. If there is doubt as to whether a particular man is the father, either can proceed by filing a petition to establish paternity in the court. The court will then order genetic testing to determine if the man is indeed the father. If testing shows that he is, the court will issue a filial order of paternity.
There are many reasons why unmarried persons may wish to establish paternity in New York. People in the situation may wish to consult a family law attorney who can assist clients with filing the appropriate documents while representing their interests in any court proceeding.
Source: OTDA, "Paternity Establishment", October 01, 2014