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.
New York fathers may be curious about what rights they have under the law. For unmarried parents, the first step is to establish paternity. If the mother is unmarried and there is no question regarding the father's identity, one option is for both parents to sign an affidavit of paternity. Otherwise, the parties must go to court to establish their respective rights and obligations.
A New York father or mother might try to establish biological paternity because of their interests in responsibilities or rights related to the child. This is especially relevant when the parents are not married as opposed to married parents, when the husband is presumed to be the biological father. Paternity allows a child to receive the benefits afforded to those with married parents.
New York fathers who are going through a divorce may despair when it comes time for child custody battles, as courts have traditionally ruled in favor of the mother unless extenuating circumstances present themselves or if the mother is declared to be unfit for parenthood. However, they may be heartened to learn about a new breed of law firm that has proliferated around the country in recent years in hopes of helping fathers acquire child custody in the event of divorce.
New York residents may be interested to learn of a dispute playing out in the courts over a father's rights. A Utah resident has filed a lawsuit in federal court against his ex-girlfriend, claiming that the woman unlawfully put his child up for adoption. The suit seeks $130 million in damages and named the adoption agency as a participant in a plan to deprive him of his father's rights.
Fathers-to-be in New York City may be interested in a recent case concerning a new dad who is fighting for paternity equity. Josh Levs, who works for CNN as a journalist, claims that his company's parental leave policy is discriminatory against new fathers, and he has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case against his employer, which is a subsidiary of Time Warner. He has taken a public stance against the matter and has written several blogs concerning the subject.
Merv Adelson, 83, faces proceedings for unpaid child support in court. He is petitioning the court to reduce his current child support payment from about $20,000 per month to about $2,000. He has also faced court proceedings for falling behind in the payments. Well known from New York to Los Angeles, Adelson is the former owner of Lorimar, the production company responsible for iconic television shows such as "Dallas" and "Knots Landing." At the time, he was worth about $300 million. He lived the lifestyle of a Hollywood mogul, including a private jet, Malibu beach home and Aspen ranch. He was married to Barbara Walters from 1986 to 1992. Walters was Adelson's second wife. He fathered two children with his third wife before they divorced in 2003. These children are still minors and the subject of the child support payments.
That is what a 58-year-old woman in Manhattan recently learned much to her disappointment. The woman had gone to court to get the name of her mother's husband at the time of her birth removed from her birth certificate. Why would she do this? For two reasons: First, she believed that her mother's husband was not her biological father. And second, the woman believed that she was the only child of a man in Italy who recently died and who, she claimed, had promised to leave a substantial portion of his estate to her.
The American legal system rarely has trouble discerning who a child's biological mother is because of hospital records. Mothers are often afforded stronger parental rights because of their direct and special relationship to their children. Fathers also have parental rights by law, but it is sometimes difficult to determine whom the father is. Unlike mothers, biological fathers aren't a necessity during childbirth.
With the entire world awaiting LeBron James' announcement on ESPN tonight regarding his future in professional basketball, one man has more important business to take care: proving that LeBron is his son.