Paternity Issues? When to Discuss with a Lawyer
Finding out that your partner is going to have a child should be a good thing. For some, though, it brings the kind of doubts and fears that can only come from wondering if the child is really theirs. Paternity means being a child’s legal father. In New York, marriage to a child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth automatically establishes paternity. However, there are other ways to establish paternity if that is not the case, such as signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form with the child’s mother or filing a petition through the court system. If you’re in a situation that might end up involving paternity issues, the family lawyers Garden City NY at Fass & Greenberg absolutely recommend involving an attorney as soon as possible to obtain the best outcome.
It’s understandable that many men put off working with lawyers when paternity issues start to arise. There’s always a tendency to want to handle things on your own, especially when something as deeply personal as the paternity of a child is at stake and private relationships are involved. The truth, though, is that you need to be careful to begin protecting both your assets and your potential relationship with the child as soon as possible. Establishing paternity is important for determining parental responsibilities, such as child support payments, but it is also necessary for determining a father’s parental rights, such as custody, visitation, decision making, and being a part of the child’s life. Paternity gives rights to the child as well, enabling them to receive things like benefits and health insurance through the father. Any man that has fathered a child has a right to be in that child’s life, and establishing paternity allows you to ensure the care and protection of your children.
If you have reason to believe a paternity determination is false, an attorney can help you understand your options. You can typically challenge it by filing a complaint with the court, and the court may then order a blood or DNA test to determine if there is a biological relation between the alleged father and the child. Blood tests can be helpful to determine if there is a possibility of fatherhood based on blood types, while DNA tests are the most accurate way of establishing paternity using DNA patterns. However, there are some instances in which you may be prohibited from challenging paternity. Under the New York Family Court Act, paternity by estoppel can prohibit both parents from claiming that the person previously recognized as the father is not actually the father. Estoppel arises when someone has held himself out as the father of a child, and it forbids any further inquiry into who the child’s father is. This doctrine of estoppel seeks to protect the child’s interest by safeguarding their relationship with the person previously determined to be the father.
It is a good idea to start speaking to an attorney as soon as you suspect that an issue of paternity is going to come up. The goal is to protect yourself and your potential relationship with the child – whether you think the child is biologically yours or not is immaterial. The next step is to move for a paternity test as soon as you can, and you may need to start court proceedings to ensure that you are assigned the proper relationship with the child. A lawyer will always be able to help you decide what to do next once you know that you need to have a paternity test done.
Fass & Greenberg are family lawyers dedicated to providing compassionate legal representation to families facing legal challenges. An attorney at our firm can help you understand your options when it comes to paternity issues. Simply contacting an attorney does not mean that you are going to make any major life changes – it just means that you want to be prepared for what comes next. If you are dealing with a paternity issue or you think that one might come into play soon, make sure to contact the attorneys at Fass & Greenberg to get the help you need.