Father holding his son up in the air.

How Do You Establish Paternity in New York?

By David Hammond

While every child has a biological father, not every child has a legal father. Establishment of paternity is the process of determining the legal father of a child. While there is an automatic presumption in New York that a father married to the mother at the time of birth is the legal father, when the mother is unmarried or there are questions as to whether the child is the biological child of the mother’s husband, paternity issues may arise. Establishment of paternity is an important step to take and is critical to making sure the rights of a father and a child are maximized under the law.

How Do You Establish Paternity in New York?

In most situations, paternity needs to be established when a child is born to unmarried parents. In New York, if the mother is married at the time of birth, the husband is presumed to be the father. When a child is born to unmarried parents in New York, there is no legal father. In this situation, unmarried parents can establish paternity in one of two ways. The first way is by signing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. The second way is to petition a court to determine paternity.

Establishing paternity by use of a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form should only be used if there are no doubts as to who the biological father is. If there are doubts as to the identity of the biological father, then paternity should be established by petitioning the court. In New York, the following parties have the right to initiate a paternity action in court:

  • Mother
  • Purported father
  • Child
  • Guardian of the child
  • Representative from a charitable organization
  • Representative from a public welfare agency

In petitioning the court to establish paternity, the court will order genetic testing of the mother, child, and purported father. If the purported father is the biological father, then the court will issue an order of filiation which declares him to be the legal father of the child.

Upon establishment of paternity, the child will be eligible to receive financial support from both parents. This support may come in the form of:

  • Child support
  • Inheritance rights
  • Veterans benefits
  • Social Security benefits

The child will also be able to access benefits under medical or life insurance policies held by either parent. In addition to these benefits, the child will have the added benefit of having a father listed on his or her birth certificate. The child will also have relevant family medical history available.

Family Law Attorneys

Establishment of paternity can be an important matter in the life of a parent and a child. If you are exploring a possible paternity action, the experienced family law attorneys at CDH Law are here to provide you with reliable legal counsel and support. For any questions you may have, we are here to provide you with much needed answers. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.