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Paternity: What is the Legal Significance?

Paternity: What is the Legal Significance?

The term “Paternity” refers to the legal relationship between a father and child. In many cases, paternity is a legal assumption. In other situations, the child’s parents must establish paternity. Without establishing paternity, the father has no legal right or obligation to the child.

Thus, paternity is a mutually beneficial legal relationship, providing the father the right to seek visitation and giving the mother the right to seek child support.

Why Is It Important to Establish Paternity?

Married couples share the obligation to support their children. By establishing paternity, unmarried couples can ensure their children are provided this same protection and care. Other benefits to the child include:

  • Reassurance that both parents want to be involved in the child’s life
  • The name of the child’s father will appear on the child’s birth certificate
  • If available, the child can receive medical coverage from either parent
  • The child will have access to his / her family and medical history

Paternity Comes with Benefits for the Mother and Father, Too

Establishing legal paternity can help parents, not just their children. Fathers, for example, can’t seek visitation rights unless they’re the child’s legal father. Additionally, the father’s name will not appear on the child’s birth certificate unless he establishes paternity. Furthermore, legal paternity allows the mother to seek financial support. Unofficial child support agreements are not enforceable in court, and the court will not grant a child support order without paternity.

How to Establish Paternity in New York

Unmarried parents have two options for establishing paternity: an Acknowledgement of Paternity form or a court petition. Acknowledgement of Paternity forms are available at hospitals (immediately after the birth of the child), local birth registrars, or local district child support offices. If either parent has any concerns about the identity of the child biological father, he / she should submit a petition with the court to confirm paternity.

If you’re facing a legal matter related to paternity or child support, speak with a New York family law attorney at Eiges & Orgel, PLLC today.


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