There is no denying the important role parents play in their child’s life – until children reach the age where they can provide for themselves, it is a parent’s job to provide for, care, and support them. Because children rely heavily on their parents through their first few years, a very strong bond is formed, one protected by state laws, such as those in New York, that were developed to protect that relationship. This bond can sometimes be threatened, especially when parents do not agree on how the child should be raised. In these cases, New York family issues usually find themselves in the family court system.
Effect of a Father in a Child’s Life
Traditional family structures have seen fathers out in the workforce earning an income to support their families while mothers have stayed home to care for children and keep the household running. While some families still operate this way, we are seeing more and more fathers staying home to care for children while the mothers go out and earn an income. Regardless of what the family structure is, fathers have been proven to play an important role in their children’s lives – fathers are equal caregivers to their female counterparts and also play a role in the educational and social development of their children.
Establishing Paternity New York
Paternity can be defined as the legal status of being a father. This legal status allows fathers both rights and responsibilities to their child including the right to both legal and physical custody as well as visitation depending on the situation. Under the laws in the state of New York, there is the presumption that when two individuals are married when a child is born that the husband is the child’s legal father. Should two individuals not be married when the child is born, the father does not have automatic legal rights and responsibilities to the child, and paternity must be established.
In the state of New York, there are two ways in which paternity can be established – Acknowledgment of Paternity or a Paternity Petition. If both parents are in agreement of who the child’s father is, they have the option to sign a form known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.” This form states that the male signing the form is the child’s legal father. The form is required to be signed by both parents with two witnesses present who are not related to either party. This form is generally presented and filled out by the parents at the hospital when the child is born.
Should the parents be unsure of who the child’s father is or do not agree on who the father is, they should not sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Instead, if an agreement cannot be met, either the mother or presumed father can file a Paternity Petition with the family court system in the state of New York. In addition to the child’s mother and presumed father having the ability to file a Paternity Petition, other parties, such as the child’s guardian or the Department of Social Services, can file this motion as well if the mother or the child is receiving some form of public assistance.
In the state of New York, a Paternity Petition can be filed any time from when the child’s mother becomes pregnant all the way until the child turns 21 years of age. Once the case begins, the court may order the mother, the presumed father, and the child to submit to genetic testing to determine who the child’s biological father is – once the child’s biological father has been identified, the court issues an “Order of Filiation.” The Order of Filiation declares that the presumed father in the case is indeed the child’s legal father, and the man’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate.
Why Paternity Should Be Established
The main purpose of establishing a child’s paternity in a case is to enforce the child’s best interests and provide that child with the same benefits and support as a child born into marriage. Establishing paternity also helps to identify the child’s biological father while also providing benefits to the parents. Once paternity is established, mothers are able to file for child support and have the father help financially support the child’s care, and fathers have the benefit of establishing their legal status to the child, allowing them the right to custody and visitation.
Father’s Rights to Child Custody and Visitation
Once a child’s paternity has been established, it is not uncommon for a child custody case to begin. In these cases, judges in the state of New York use the “best interests of the child” standard to determine which parent is the better caregiver or if it is possible for the parents to share joint custody. Under this standard, the judge is guided to make decisions that support the child’s best interests, regardless of the feelings or requests of either parent, and this generally means keeping both parents equally involved in the child’s life to help with his or her overall wellbeing.
However, in cases where joint custody is not an option, the judge evaluates both parents to determine who is the best primary caregiver. Mothers and fathers are evaluated equally, and the primary caregiver is not chosen by gender alone. Some of the factors a judge considers include the relationship between the child and both parents, both parents’ overall health, each parent’s ability to care for the child, each parent’s financial stability, and if the parents are able to work together to co-parent the child and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
Father’s Right to Child Support in New York
In cases where fathers have been granted the role of primary caregiver, they then have the right to file for child support, just as a mother would in the same situation. Child support is a financial payment from one parent to another to help financially support their child by giving the primary caregiver the funds needed to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for the child among other expenses including schooling and extracurricular activities. Fathers who are primary caregivers have the same right to request and collect child support as mothers do.
How a Father’s Rights Lawyer Can Help
Since mothers have traditionally been considered the most important relationship in a child’s life, it can be easy to see how fathers who find themselves in family court often do not know or fully understand their parental rights. For fathers who are facing a paternity petition, child custody, or child support case, it is in their best interests to seek the legal counsel of a knowledgeable fathers’ rights lawyer in the state in which they live. These legal professionals are able to explain their client’s rights, alert the client to any issues the case may have, and help prepare a strong case.