How Do I Establish Paternity in Fulton County?
The New York Family Court Act governs paternity cases in Fulton County and the rest of the state. Under Section 516-a of the Act, you can voluntarily declare paternity by filing a written acknowledgment in the same locality where your child’s birth occurred and for which a birth certificate was filed. If nobody challenges or contest your declaration, that is enough to legally establish paternity.
But if there is any dispute regarding your child’s biological paternity, a voluntary acknowledgment is insufficient. In such cases you will need to petition the Family Court for a formal determination. (Note that you can initiate a paternity case even before the child is born, i.e., during the mother’s pregnancy.) The Court will order genetic testing on you, the child, and the mother, and based on the results a judge can declare you the father.
Seeking Custody of Your Children
Child custody is often an emotionally charged issue for parents. Many people still cling to the belief that a mother should always have custody absent evidence of abuse or incompetence. But that is not how the law works in New York. Instead, a Fulton County Family Court judge must determine what custody arrangements will be in the “best interest of the child.”
There is no single factor that defines an individual child’s best interest. The judge must look at the total picture of your family’s situation, including each parent’s relative strengths and weaknesses, physical and mental health, work schedules, and even the child’s own preference if he or she is old enough to express one. A court will also consider whether you are able to get along with the child’s mother and encourage a healthy relationship with her.
The Colwell Law Group, LLC, Can Defend Your Parental Rights
Although the law is gender-neutral when it comes to parental rights, judges are still human and prone to traditional biases. This is why it is critical to work with a qualified Fulton County fathers’ rights lawyer who knows what judges look for in paternity and child custody cases and makes sure the court has all of the necessary information before making a decision. If you need help establishing your legal rights as a father, contact The Colwell Law Group, LLC, at 518-213-4204 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.