Articles Posted in Paternity

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In this case the court was asked to set aside an acknowledgement of paternity, direct a paternity test, and discontinue child support payments.  The mother responded by filing a motion to dismiss the petition.  Not surprisingly, the court denied the petitioner’s request and granted the mother’s motion to dismiss.

Typically establishing paternity is only an issue if the child is born to unmarried parents. If the parents are married when the child is born, the husband of the mother is deemed the legal father of the child. This is the case even if there is reason to suspect that another man is the biological father.  If the parents are not married, there are a few ways to establish paternity.  One way is to get a DNA test which will indicate whether or not a man is the biological father of the child.  Another way is for both parents to sign a document called an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.”  The form requires that the parents agree on the paternity of the child.  There is not requirement that the parents take a DNA test to confirm paternity. Thus, if there is a question about paternity, it is a good idea to get a DNA test and to not simply sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Once an Acknowledgement of Paternity is signed and filed, it is legally binding.  The father will have both the legal rights and obligations of a father, including the obligation of paying child support until the child is emancipated.  The father will also have the right to seek custody or visitation. This is the case regardless of whether or not the man who signs the form is actually the biological father.  Once paternity is established through the Acknowledge of Paternity form and child support established, it is very difficult to reverse. New York has an interest in ensuring that children are cared for.  It is in the best interest of a child to have two parents financially responsible for raising the child and to have two parents emotionally care for the child.  Thus, once a man comes forward and acknowledges that he is a child’s father and starts to pay child support, the court is reluctant to reverse it.

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The court records establish that on May 6, 2003, the court adjudicated the Child V.(d.o.b. October 19, 2002, the “Child”) a neglected child under Article 10 of the Family Court Act and issued a final order of placement for one year, placing the Child in the custody of the Department of Social Services (“DSS”). On November 6, 2003, C. L. filed a paternity petition. The court granted the petition on April 7, 2004 and issued a written order of filiation on April 18, 2004. On October 15, 2005 C.L. filed a petition for visitation with the Child (the “Visitation Petition”). DSS filed a petition to terminate C.L.’s parental rights on November 21, 2005 (the “TPR Petition”). Ms. G, who had voluntarily placed the Child in the custody of DSS shortly after her birth, died in December of 2005. The foster parents, who wish to adopt the Child, moved to intervene in the adjudication of the Visitation Petition. The motion to intervene was denied by order of this court dated August 12, 2005.

The Department of Social Services moved this court for a hearing to determine whether C.L. is a person whose consent to the adoption of the Child is required under Domestic Relations Law §111 or whether C.L. is limited to receiving notice of the adoption proceedings pursuant to Social Services Law §384-c.

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