Establishing paternity is an important issue for parents and children in New York. It allows for the father to be legally recognized as the parent of a child, and provides important benefits such as the ability to seek child support, visitation rights, and inheritance. In New York, paternity is presumed if the parents are married, but in cases where the parents are unmarried, paternity must be established through legal means. This can be done through voluntary acknowledgement, DNA testing, or a court order. However, in some cases, establishing paternity can be complicated, as demonstrated in the case of Matter of Lynn NN. v. William OO., 13 N.Y.3d 7 (2009).
In Matter of Lynn NN. v. William OO., William OO. was the putative father of a child born to Lynn NN. The couple had a brief relationship, and after they broke up, Lynn NN. filed a petition to establish paternity and child support. William OO. appeared in court and acknowledged that he was the father of the child, and a judgment of paternity was entered. William OO. paid child support for several years until he learned that he might not be the biological father of the child.
William OO. then filed a petition to vacate the judgment of paternity on the basis of newly discovered evidence. He argued that DNA testing showed that he was not the biological father of the child, and that Lynn NN. had misled him into believing that he was the father. The court held a hearing on the matter and found that William OO. had not exercised due diligence in discovering the evidence of non-paternity. The court denied William OO.’s petition to vacate the judgment of paternity, and he appealed.
On appeal, the court considered whether William OO. had exercised due diligence in discovering the evidence of non-paternity, and whether he was entitled to vacate the judgment of paternity. The court noted that a party seeking to vacate a judgment on the basis of newly discovered evidence must show that the evidence could not have been discovered with due diligence before the judgment was entered, and that the evidence is of such a nature that it would probably change the result if a new trial were granted.
The court found that William OO. had not exercised due diligence in discovering the evidence of non-paternity. The court noted that William OO. had known that there was a possibility that he was not the biological father of the child, but he had not pursued DNA testing until several years after the judgment of paternity was entered. The court also noted that William OO. had not asked Lynn NN. about the possibility of non-paternity until several years after the judgment of paternity was entered, and that he had not taken any action to investigate the matter until after he had stopped paying child support.
The court also found that the evidence of non-paternity was not of such a nature that it would probably change the result if a new trial were granted. The court noted that the evidence was inconclusive, and that it was possible that William OO. was the biological father of the child. The court also noted that the judgment of paternity had been entered with William OO.’s consent, and that he had paid child support for several years.
The case of Matter of Lynn NN. v. William OO. highlights the need for due diligence in discovering evidence to challenge a judgment of paternity, as well as the importance of timely action in such matters. If you wait too long, the court may not relieve you of a financial obligation even it is proven that you are not the child’s biological father. If you are facing issues related to paternity or any other family law matter in New York, it is crucial to immediately consult with an experienced family law lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance on your legal rights and options, as well as help you navigate the complex legal process.