Paternity petitions are filed to legally establish that a person is the father of a child. Establishing paternity is a required gateway to Family Court with respect to many issues. You cannot file for custody of a child unless you are the legal father. You cannot seek support from the father of a child unless you first prove that that person is in fact the legal father.
Even if the name of the father is on the birth certificate so long as the parties were not married the father's name on the birth certificate is not necessarily proof that that person is the legal father. An Order of Filiation may still be necessary. Upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that a person is the biological father of a child an Order of Filiation will be issued naming that person as the legal father for all purposes.
In general paternity petitions are usually filed by either the father of a child seeking to establish that he is the legal father or by the mother of a child seeking to have the father named the legal father for purposes of child support.
In addition, paternity petitions can also be filed by the following persons:
If you were married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, one of the strongest presumptions under the law applies. That is “the presumption of legitimacy”, that a child born during a marriage is a child of that marriage. Absent evidence to the contrary, a child born during a marriage is presumed to be your child and no paternity proceeding would be necessary.
In addition, an unmarried person may sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” acknowledging that they are the father. As long as the Acknowledgement was in the proper format and is filed appropriately, the acknowledgement is just as valid as an Order of Filiation.
However, if the mother of the child was married to someone other than the biological father of the child at the time the child was born, a paternity petition MUST be filed regardless of whether or not the biological father signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity.
Thanks to the advances of modern science, paternity proceedings are quite simple today. In most cases, if there is a dispute as to paternity the Court will simply order a DNA test. In such an instance the mother, father and child will all be ordered to go to a testing facility to determine paternity
The law firm of Simon & Milner in Valley Stream, New York are here if you have questions about paternity. Call (516) 561-6622
or (800) 807-5616