Most parents assume that at the time of their child’s birth, they will automatically be recognized as the child’s legal parents. However, while this is true for mothers, it is not always the case for fathers. Indeed, if a mother and father of a child are not married at the time of the child’s birth, the father does not automatically receive legal recognition as the child’s father. Instead, paternity must be established.

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What Is Paternity?

Paternity establishment, as explained by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance | Child Support, is the process of determining the legal father of a child. If a father has not established paternity, the father does not have any legal rights, including the lack of a right to seek custody of or visitation with the child, make decisions about the child’s life, etc.

Importance of Establishing Paternity

For fathers, establishing paternity is important because it gives the father the legal rights listed above. But establishing paternity is also important for mothers and children, too, as it ensures that the child will be able to receive the same financial and emotional benefits that children of married parents are entitled to, including Social Security and other state/federal benefits, medical information and insurance, and the psychological benefit that comes with knowing who one’s father is.

How Paternity Is Established

When a child is born to married parents, it is assumed that the father is the biological father of the child, and paternity is automatically established as such. When a child is born out of wedlock, however, this is not the case. In order to establish paternity in Schoharie County, unmarried parents will both need to sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form (which is usually available at the place of the child’s birth), or file a petition with the court to ask the court to establish paternity.

Either a mother or an alleged father can file a petition with the court to establish paternity; the father may choose to do so because they want legal rights, like the right to seek visitation with a child, and a mother may do so because they wish to seek certain benefits, like child support payments. If a court is responsible for determining paternity, the court will ask the child and father to submit to genetic testing.

Our Schoharie County Paternity Attorneys Are Here to Help

Whether you are a mother or a father, establishing paternity for your child is an important decision, and has a number of advantages for both you and your child. If you are not sure what steps to take to initiate the process of establishing paternity, our Schoharie County paternity attorneys have the skill set necessary to competently assist you. We can also help you take action after paternity has been established, such as seeking custody, seeking child support payments, etc.

To learn more about our legal services and how to establish paternity in New York, reach out to us today by sending us a confidential message using the contact form on our website, or call our law offices directly.

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