How To Establish Paternity In Suffolk County
In 2020, over 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. and of them, more than 40 percent were born to unwed mothers. That is a substantial increase from 30 years ago when only 28 percent of children were born to unmarried mothers. Many couples today are choosing to have children together, but also choose to remain unmarried.
In these circumstances, fathers still have the right to pursue visitation and custody if the relationship breaks down. Likewise, unwed mothers also have the right to pursue child support from the father if the relationship does not work out. Before either of these legal actions can be taken, unmarried parents must prove something married parents do not. They must establish that the man is the biological father of the child. Below, our Suffolk County paternity lawyer explains how to do this.
Unmarried Mothers have Presumed Custody
When an unmarried woman has a child, the law automatically recognizes that she has full legal and physical custody rights of the child. Physical custody refers to the fact that the child will live primarily with the mother. Legal custody refers to the fact that the mother has the sole right to make important decisions for the child, such as what religion they will be raised in, and the education and medical care the child will receive.
Unmarried biological fathers are not presumed to have the same legal responsibilities or rights as unmarried mothers. To obtain those rights, fathers must first petition the Family Court for custody or visitation. To have these rights legally recognized, fathers must establish paternity. Unwed mothers must also establish paternity if they want to seek child support from the father.
Establishing Paternity in Suffolk County
Either an unmarried mother or father can establish paternity in one of two ways in Suffolk County. These are as follows:
- Acknowledgement of paternity: Mothers and fathers can both sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form to establish paternity. The form is available at the hospital and can be signed immediately following the birth. If the form is not signed at the hospital, parents can obtain one from the birth registrar or the local child support office.
- Order of filiation: The court can also issue an order known as the Order of Filiation that names the father. A judge can issue this order “on consent” when the parents agree on the biological father. If either the man or woman in question disputes paternity, the court will order a DNA test for the mother, the alleged father, and the child.
Once paternity has been established, either the mother or father can pursue legal action for child custody or child support. The process is very similar as to when a married couple obtains a divorce and must resolve these issues.
Our Paternity Lawyer in Suffolk County Can Help You Through the Process
If you have a child and are not married, our Suffolk County paternity lawyer can help. At the Law Office of Joshua Adam Kittenplan, P.C. our seasoned attorney can help you navigate the process, and pursue any action for child custody or support. Call us now at 631-499-0606 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more.