When a child is born to a married husband and wife in New York, the law assumes that the mother’s husband is also the child’s father. If the parents are not married, however, the father must sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” in order to be treated as the child’s legal parent, or the father must seek a court order known as an “order of filiation,” which declares that the father is the child’s legal parent.
Most Acknowledgements of Paternity are filled out and signed at the hospital when the baby is born. An order of filiation can be obtained only by filing with a family court. An experienced Long Island paternity rights attorney can help you through this process. Without either an Acknowledgement of Paternity or an order of filiation, the biological father of a child has no legal right to participate in raising the child, such as by having custody, visitation, or the right to participate in key decisions about the child’s life.
A paternity petition can be filed by the father himself. It can also be filed by the child’s mother or legal guardian or, in some cases, by the child. Children who receive public assistance may also have a petition filed on their behalf by the Department of Social Services. In a few cases, a paternity petition might be filed even if the child’s father has passed away – for instance, in order to establish a child’s right to part or all of the estate left behind by the father.