Paternity disputes and DNA tests have been portrayed as a joke by television shows like Maury, when in reality, they play a pivotal role in child custody and support cases throughout the United States. Biological parents have legal obligations to their children, and before an agreement regarding paternal rights and obligations can be made, paternity must be determined. In New York, either or both the child’s mother and/or father can make paternity inquiries for a variety of reasons, including to help determine custody, visitation, and child support obligations.
Paternity, Child Support, and Visitation
If a male has not acknowledged paternity by signing the child’s birth certificate, or if he was not married to the mother during the time of conception or birth, then paternity must be proven before he has any legal rights to the child. This means he will need to take a DNA test and get an Order of Paternity from family court before he can begin attempting to obtain custody or visitation. Without such an Order, even though a man may be the biological father of the child, he will have no legal rights to him or her. The father will have no grounds to visit with the child (via alternative forms of visitation or otherwise), he will have no right to joint legal or physical custody, and he will not be obligated to pay child support.
New Yorkers know how expensive it is to live in the Big Apple, and these costs only escalate while raising a child. To help cover day-to-day expenses for the care and support of the child, mothers will request that Family Court grant her an Order of Child Support. In order for the mother, the petitioner, to be awarded support, she must prove to a judge that the respondent is the child’s biological father, which can be done via a DNA test. If the DNA test confirms a biological match, an Order of Paternity will be issued and the respondent will be required to pay support in line with the Child Support Standards Act.
Determining paternity is not only beneficial to parents, but also grandparents. While limited, grandparents have rights to see their grandchildren. Potential paternal grandparents have no legal standing to request visitations privileges with a child until paternity has been determined. This means a mother is under no obligation to allow the paternal grandparents to see her child until a court order recognizes the biological father.
Paternity cases involve very sensitive issues that have life-changing results. Paternity petitions are filed by both men and women, and are a very common part of the New York Family Court system. Parents should not be embarrassed about their paternity dispute, as an Order of Paternity is often needed for both child custody and support cases. Depending on the outcome of a paternity matter, a father will be awarded custody or visitation rights and will be able to develop a relationship with his child. Alternatively, a mother can receive an Order of Child Support, which will help alleviate the financial burden of raising a child on a single income.
Brian D. Perskin & Associates, New York Paternity Lawyers
For more information on paternity cases, contact the New York City based family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. Our team of experienced attorneys focus on divorce and family law, including all aspects of paternity, child custody, and child support matters. Protect your children and your legal rights with thorough and effective representation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.