What is Paternity in New York?
In short, paternity is being child’s legal father. Establishing paternity is proof that someone is the legal father of a child. Every child has a biological father, but, unless the child’s parents are married, they don’t have a legal father.
How do I establish paternity?
- Marriage to the mother of the child in question at the time the child is born automatically establishes legal fatherhood meaning that you do not have to establish paternity through the court process. However, if a father is married at the time a mother becomes pregnant with another man’s child, the married father is still considered the legal father and should consult with an attorney immediately to explore options associated with the automatic paternity and “de-fathering”.
- Signing an acknowledgment of paternity at the hospital when the child is born (similar but not the same as a birth certificate).
- Filing a petition for paternity in Family Court and securing an order of filiation from the court.
Why should I establish paternity in New York?
Paternity potentially grants the father the same parental rights as the mother, such as the right to petition for visitation, custody and child support. Parental rights for married parents vs. unmarried parents are different. If the biological father does not establish legal paternity, they are what is considered to be a non-marital, unwed or “notice father.”
Am I a notice father?
You may be a notice father if:
– you were adjudicated by an NYS court as the father of the child (the “legal father”)
– you were adjudicated as the father in another state AND registered that adjudication with NYS
– you have filed an intent to claim paternity of the child
– you are listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father
– you have lived with the child and the mother and held yourself out to be the child’s father at the time that the child went into care
– you identified as the father in a written and sworn statement by the mother
– you married the mother before the child was 6 months old and before any surrender or termination of mother’s rights
-you registered with the Putative Father Registry
– you filed with NYS as the possible putative father of the child. (from NYcourts.gov)
What is the New York “Putative Father Registry?”
The Putative Father Registry is a notification service that unwed fathers can utilize to register that the father believes he may have fathered a child. Registering is not determinative of paternity but it helps to ensure the father is notified of any action involving the child.
If a father changes his mind or finds out that he is in fact not the biological father, he can remove his name from the registry at any time. Registering also does NOT establish paternity and therefore is not used to assign child support. (see Putative Father Registry)
What does being a notice father mean?
Basically, it means that you have the right to receive written legal notice for when there are Family court cases involving the child(ren) such as termination of the mother’s rights, voluntary surrender of the child (adoption) and involuntary surrender (foster care).
Do I have any rights as a notice father if my child is being placed for adoption?
Yes! You have the right to be notified and, if you know about the adoption prior to it taking place, you can provide information to the court that may or may not support the adoption moving forward. You should contact an attorney familiar with father’s rights for assistance as soon as possible.
You might be able to override an adoption if you can prove that:
-you have been financially supporting the child;
-you lived openly with the child and the child’s mother for at least six months during the year before your child was placed for adoption;
-you have visited the child at least once a month, or if unable to visit, regularly communicated with the child or agency/person that has legal custody of your child. (http://www.liftonline.org/)
I received a notice for child support for a child that is not mine, what should I do?
If you have acted as the child’s father for a period of time and if the child’s biological father is not in the child’s life, or is not paying child support, you may be responsible for the financial care of that child! You should contact a family law attorney immediately and review your options. The longer you wait to address the issue, the more difficult it may become to provide proof that you should not be financially responsible for the child.
Here are some resources to assist with answering questions you may have about your rights as a father in the State of New York:
Equal Rights for Fathers (Rochester, NY)
City Dad’s Group (New York City area)
Fatherhood Support (New York City)
Family Law Attorney (New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Elmira, Binghamton, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island)