Paternity

PATERNITY QUESTIONS: HOW TO NAVIGATE LEGAL FATHERHOOD

By: Akanksha A. Panicker

[1.1] EXPLAINING A PATERNITY CASE

It’s easy enough to identify a child’s birth mother, but what about paternity? A child born to parents not married to each other is considered not to have a legal father, unless the biological father signs an ‘Acknowledgement of Paternity.’ This is usually done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. 

So, what exactly happens? 

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) is a legal process through which paternity, or legal fatherhood, can be established. The father declares himself to be the child’s father, entering an ‘Order of Filiation’ which essentially is a court order declaring legal parenthood. A petition can be filed in Family Court seeking the same. 

Paternity establishment ultimately is just the process of determining the legal father of a child. In New York, unmarried parents can establish paternity by [A.] signing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form; or [B.]by petitioning a court to determine paternity. The Acknowledgement of Paternity form is available from hospitals, local district child support offices, and local birth registrars.

Filing For Paternity And What To Expect

What Is a Paternity Case?

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.