Your Family Matters

Who’s The Father? An Important Legal Step

Determining paternity is about much more than who to call “dad.” Legal ramifications include who pays for child support, the right of a father to refuse an adoption, and custody and visitation rights. These proceedings are often complex, both emotionally and legally. Working with The Law Offices of Joseph H. Nivin, P.C., can help you navigate the process smoothly and efficiently.

Paternity is important to establish for many reasons, including holding the father accountable for his share of support and allowing him to refuse to give a child up for adoption. For the mother, it can mean vital financial support for raising the child and a requirement of shared custody or visitation. It also establishes rights of inheritance for the child, financial support until adulthood and the right to sue for death or harm to the father.

How Is Paternity Established?

If a mother is married when she gives birth, her husband is legally considered the father. With unmarried couples, paternity can be determined voluntarily or involuntarily. For the voluntary option, both the mother and father can sign an acknowledgment of paternity form. The court can also issue an order of filiation, which grants the father the right to custody, visitation and responsibility for child support.

If the father refuses to admit paternity, a paternity petition can be filed in court by the mother or the state requiring him to appear in court and submit to a DNA test. If the man’s DNA matches that of the child, the court will enter an order that establishes legal paternity. If the man still refuses to admit paternity, a hearing can be scheduled where both he and the mother can testify, and the test results can be offered as evidence. If paternity is proven, an order of filiation will be entered; if there isn’t enough proof, the petition is dismissed.

Child Support

A major component of paternity cases is determining who will pay child support. The parent who is awarded custody can get child support from the other parent. It can include payments based on the needs of the child and the parent’s income, child care expenses, health insurance and health care costs. In New York, parents are responsible for financially supporting a child until the age of 21.

Protecting A Father’s Rights

At The Law Offices of Joseph H. Nivin, P.C., we believe in safeguarding a father’s rights to be involved in his child’s life. Those rights can include visitation, petitioning for custody or a say in any potential adoption. Visitation or shared custody gives unmarried fathers a chance to be a consistent figure in their child’s life; like most courts, we believe that having both parents involved is beneficial to a child.

Contact Attorneys Skilled In Paternity Cases

Working through complex family issues like determining paternity can be difficult. With the assistance of The Law Offices of Joseph H. Nivin, P.C., our attorneys can advocate for your rights and the rights of your children. Call our Forest Hills office at 877-704-9920, or contact us online.