Paternity actions


A paternity action is legal proceeding to establish if a man is the biological father of  a child(ren). An action for paternity can be brought by the child's mother,  a man who believes that he may be the father, the child, the child's guardian and  or the Department of Social Services if the mother is on public assistance.

Once paternity is established, a child then has a  legal right to child support from the father, acquires inheritance rights [assuming the father dies without a will], the child may have a right to health benefits when the father has a policy that provides same,  Social Security benefits if the father becomes disabled or dies, and the right to share in any  wrongful death action.

The establishment of paternity gives the father the rights of visitation and to seek legal custody of the child.  The father can object to the mother relocating outside of New York with the child and to any adoption of the child.


Establishing Paternity: 

A)  The father signs an acknowledgment of paternity. The proper form must be signed and notarized. This form is provided to unmarried women at the time they give birth.

B)  A Family Court action. The judge will issue an order of filiation once it is established or the father agrees to same. An order of filiation means that the man is the legal father of the child. If the alleged father does not consent, the judge will order DNA testing be done. If the results show that there is at least a 95% probability that the man is the father of the child, the judge, will more than likely issue an order of filiation.

C) If a child is born during the marriage of a man and women, the legal presumption is that the husband is the father-even if he is not in reality. The burden is on the husband to prove that he is not the father.

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