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 whichpaternity, 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.
If you are an applicant/recipient of Temporary Assistance for the child, or Medicaid for yourself and the child, or your child is in Title IV-E Foster Care, you are required to assign to the social services district rights you have to support on your own behalf and any rights to child support on behalf of any family member for whom you are applying for, or receiving assistance. For Medicaid applicants/recipients, this assignment is limited to medical support only. When applying for, or receiving Temporary Assistance, your assignment of support rights is limited to support that accrues during the period that you or the family member receives assistance. You are required to assign these support rights and, unless you claim good cause or domestic violence for not doing so, cooperate with the Child SupportEnforcement Unit to:
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.