Paternity can be established in several ways

Many of New York's couples decide either not to marry at all or to wait. In the meantime, some of those couples may have children. If you are one of them, you need to know that you cannot simply put a man's name on a birth certificate and establish legal paternity.

The only time that works is when a couple is married at the time of the birth. Otherwise, an unwed couple will need to take steps to make sure that the biological father receives his parental rights and obligations to the child.

Out-of-court solutions

You and the other parent may execute a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, which you must file in the appropriate venue in order to put the biological father's name on the birth certificate.

Another option would be to marry after the birth. You and the other parent may execute a form to legitimize the child's parentage. Thereafter, the father receives all of the rights and responsibilities of being a legal parent.

Finally, you and the other parent may negotiate an agreement that identifies the father and makes arrangements for custody and child support.

In-court solutions

If you and the other parent do not remain together and do not part on good terms, paternity could become a point of contention. It may then be necessary to file a paternity suit in order to establish the legal status of the biological father. The court may order the probable father to submit to a DNA test in order to scientifically establish that he is the father of the child.

When the results come back indicating that the man is the biological father, the court enters an order establishing legal paternity. At this point, the court may here from both parents on the issues of custody, visitation and child support and enter orders accordingly. This process leaves the control in the hands of the court.

If you and the other parent are able, it may be worth the effort to attempt an amicable resolution before going into court. The control returns to the both of you and you may come to an agreement that works best for everyone, especially the child. It can be easy to allow an emotional break up to cloud the real issue, which is determining what is best for the child. Keeping that at the forefront may help avoid any unpleasantness that could unnecessarily complicate co-parenting. 

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Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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Williamsville, NY 14221

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