Written by Louise Lingat

Paternity establishment is the process for determining the legal father of a child. Every child has a biological father, but if a child is born to parents who are not married, the child does not have a legal father, unless the father signed an acknowledgement of paternity (usually in the hospital), or signed up with the putative father registry. Otherwise, for a child to have a legal father, paternity must be established.

1. I am not married and I have a child. I know who the biological father is. How do I establish paternity?
There are three ways to establish paternity for parents who are not married. The father may sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or register with the putative father registry. If the father did neither, and the mother wishes to establish paternity, then the mother has to file a petition in court.

2. What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
Establishing the paternity of a child allows the child of unmarried parents to have the same rights and benefits of children of married parents. These benefits include:

  • Father’s name on the birth certificate
  • Medical insurance from the father
  • Financial support, which includes Social Security, child support and inheritance rights.
  • Paternity allows the legal father to seek custody and parenting time of the child.

3. If my child’s father does not sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, how can the court establish paternity?
For the court to establish paternity, a paternity petition must be filed in Family Court. The petition may be filed by the mother of the child, by a man who believes he is the father of the child, by the children themselves, or by the child’s guardian. Once a petition is filed, the petition and summons must be served upon the respondent.

If you need any assistance in establishing paternity, please contact us.

Sources:
NYS DCSE | Paternity Establishment,
https://www.childsupport.ny.gov/dcse/paternity_establishment.html