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Was there sufficient evidence to vacate an acknowledgement of paternity? C.R. v. Y.P., 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 50603 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2020)  


C.R. v. Y.P., 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 50603 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2020) involves the determination of fatherhood for a child born to respondent Y.P. (referred to as Ms. P) and listed on the birth certificate as J.E., with S.D.E. acknowledged as the father. However, petitioner C.R. contested this acknowledgment, asserting his own paternity over J.E.

Background Facts
C.R. v. Y.P.  involves the determination of paternity for a child named J.E., born to respondent Y.P. (referred to as Ms. P). The birth certificate, filed shortly after J.E.’s birth, listed S.D.E. as the father, based on an acknowledgment of paternity signed by S.D.E. and Ms. P. However, petitioner C.R. contested this acknowledgment, claiming to be J.E.’s biological father.

Extensive hearings were conducted to unravel the complexities surrounding J.E.’s parentage. Testimonies from Ms. P, S.D.E., and C.R. provided insights into the circumstances leading to J.E.’s birth and the events surrounding the acknowledgment of paternity. Ms. P testified to her relationship with both S.D.E. and C.R., acknowledging an encounter with C.R. around the conception period. However, she maintained that she believed S.D.E. to be J.E.’s father at the time of birth.

S.D.E. corroborated Ms. P’s testimony, asserting his belief in his paternity based on their relationship and active attempts to conceive a child together. Despite awareness of Ms. P’s encounter with C.R., S.D.E. voluntarily signed the acknowledgment of paternity.

C.R.’s testimony offered a different perspective, detailing his relationship with Ms. P and asserting his belief in his paternity. However, he acknowledged the agreement to undergo DNA testing post-birth to confirm paternity.

Whether there were sufficient grounds to vacate the acknowledgment, which declared S.D.E. as the legal father of J.E.

After careful consideration of the testimonies and evidence presented, the court concluded that C.R. failed to establish fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact necessary to invalidate the acknowledgment of paternity. Consequently, the acknowledgment stood, and C.R.’s petition was dismissed with prejudice.

The court began by emphasizing the significance of the acknowledgment of paternity, which established S.D.E. as the legal father of J.E. This acknowledgment, signed voluntarily by both S.D.E. and the child’s mother, carried substantial legal weight and could only be vacated upon proof of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.

In assessing the petitioner’s claim, the court reviewed the testimonies of all parties involved: respondent Y.P. (the child’s mother), S.D.E. (the acknowledged legal father), and petitioner C.R. (the putative father). While acknowledging discrepancies in their accounts, the court found common ground on key factual points, enabling it to draw reliable conclusions.

The court scrutinized the circumstances surrounding the signing of the acknowledgment of paternity. Despite petitioner C.R.’s assertions, the court found insufficient evidence to support claims of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact on the part of S.D.E. The acknowledgment was signed after S.D.E. was informed of the possibility of another man, C.R., being the biological father, yet he chose to proceed, believing the likelihood of his own paternity to be high.

Moreover, the court underscored the legal principles governing acknowledgments of paternity, emphasizing the necessity of upholding such documents absent clear grounds for their nullification. It cited relevant case law and statutory provisions to support its rationale, ensuring consistency with established legal standards.

Ultimately, the court concluded that petitioner C.R. had not met the burden of proof required to vacate the acknowledgment of paternity. Without sufficient evidence of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, the court upheld the legal status of S.D.E. as the father of J.E.

In navigating the complexities of paternity disputes, this case underscores the importance of adhering to legal procedures and evidentiary standards. For those embroiled in paternity disputes or other family law matters, seeking the counsel of seasoned New York paternity lawyers is paramount. Stephen Bilkis & Associates stands ready to offer expert guidance and support, ensuring that your rights are protected and your interests advocated for effectively. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case with our dedicated family law professionals.

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