The Family Court of the State of New York has the authority to decide cases affecting the lives of children and families. The court has a wide range of powers to fit the needs of the people who come before it.
The Family Court Act gives the Family Court power to hear certain types of cases. Each case filed is given its own identifying number, called a “docket number.”
The docket number begins with a letter that identifies the type of case filed:
The parties are given an appointment for DNA tests at a laboratory. The petitioner or respondent will have to pay for the testing, unless the court finds that the party cannot afford it. If so, DSS will pay for the test. The laboratory will send the results directly to the court.
When the parties return to court, the court will explain the test results. DNA test results are expressed in percentages. For example, the DNA test might show that the man is 98% likely to be the biological father. If, after learning about the DNA results, the parties agree on paternity, the court may enter an order of filiation. If the parties still do not agree on paternity, the matter is adjourned for a hearing. At the hearing, both parties may testify and present witnesses, and the blood or DNA test results may be offered in evidence. The petitioner usually has the burden of proving paternity by clear and convincing evidence. If the DNA test results are 95% likelihood of paternity or higher, the burden shifts to the respondent to prove he is not the child’s father. If the petitioner presents sufficient proof, the court will enter an order of filiation. If not, the petition will be dismissed.
When a child is born to parents who are not married to each other, the biological father is not considered the child’s legal parent unless the father has signed an “Acknowledgment of Paternity” (usually done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth) declaring himself to be the child’s father, or an “order of filiation” has been entered, which is a court order that declares that person to be the legal father. A petition may be filed in Family Court seeking an order of filiation.
Why Is it Is Necessary to Have an Order of Filiation Made?
If a man was not married to the mother of the child, he has no obligation to pay support for the child, and has no legal right to custody or visitation with the child, unless he is legally named the father of the child, through an order of filiation or an acknowledgment of paternity.