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Does an Unmarried Father Have Parental Rights?

Does an Unmarried Father Have Parental Rights?

Does an Unmarried Father Have Parental Rights?

There is no denying the importance of a parent or parents in a child’s life. Parents provide for and support a child until they grow up. Under New York State law, both parents are required to financially support their child until he/she turns 21 years old. There are exceptions if the child is under the age of 21 and is married, self-supporting, or in the military.

Parentage is assumed when a couple is married; however, paternity will need to be established for a father to be granted parental rights. Today, we review what rights unmarried fathers are entitled to when it comes to child custody and parenting time.

Establishing Paternity in New York State

In New York State, there is the presumption that when a couple is married and has a child together that the husband is the child’s father. If the couple is not married when the child is both, the father will not be granted parental rights immediately and paternity will need to be established. Therefore, parental rights are immediately granted to married parents. Parental rights need to be established after paternity has been determined if the parents are unmarried.

How to Determine Paternity

There are two ways for unmarried parents to establish paternity in New York:

Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP), which is available at the hospital the child was born, local district child support office, and local birth registrars.

If both parents agree on parentage, they have the option to sign a form called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This form declares that the man signing is the child’s legal father. Both parties must sign this in front of two witnesses who cannot be related to them.

File a petition to have the court determine paternity

If the parents are not sure who the child’s father is or disagree about parentage, they can file a paternity petition with the family court system in New York State. A child’s guardian or the Department of Social Services can also file this motion.

Father’s Rights in New York State

It is important to note that proving paternity via a test does not immediately grant a father parental rights. What it does do is provide him with the ability to pursue child custody and parenting time. Typically, after paternity has been established a father will petition for child custody parenting time. The court will refer to the best interests of the child standard to determine if joint custody would be a good option. Generally, the court finds it in the best interest of the child to keep both parents involved in the child’s life; however, this is not always the case.

The judge will evaluate both parents and consider the following factors before awarding custody and parenting time:

  • Relationship between the child and both parents
  • Both parents’ overall health
  • Both parents’ ability to care for the child
  • Each parent’s financial stability
  • Whether the parents can cooperate and work together to co-parent and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

Does a Father Have a Right to Child Support?

In the event a father is granted the role of primary caregiver, he has the right to file for child support. Fathers who are primary caregivers have the same right to request child support as mothers do.

When Can a Paternity Petition Be Filed?

A paternity petition can be filed any time until the child turns 21 year of age. Once this has been done, the court may order the mother, presumed father, and the child to get genetic testing done.

Reasons to Establish Paternity

Once paternity has been established, a father has legal rights to his child as well as responsibilities. Therefore, the mother can file for child support and ask the father to assist with financial support. The father also gets the right to child custody and parenting time after parentage has been determined.

How an Attorney from Our Firm Can Support You

If you are a father facing a paternity petition, child custody battle, or child support case, it is in your best interests to secure legal counsel. At Friedman & Friedman PLLC, Attorneys at Law, we understand how important your child is to you and will use our knowledge and experience to advocate for you and your rights.

Contact us online to schedule a consultation to discuss your options. Let us provide the compassionate care you deserve.