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Voluntarily Claiming Paternity: A Closer Look

Becoming a father is a huge life stage. It means you no longer are in life on your own – instead, you have someone else who is counting on you to make his or her life better from the very start. There are many of us who want to take on this life stage and look forward to fatherhood. Some men are even in a position where they either are – or at least have a claim to be – the father of a child. For these men, the question is not whether they want to claim the child as their own, but rather how to voluntarily establish paternity.

A Husband is the Presumptive Father to His Wife’s Children

The most common way for a man to gain legal paternity of a child is to be married to the child’s mother, and for the child to be born during the marriage. In these cases, the law is pretty simple: There is a presumption that the husband is the child’s father.

Just because you are not the husband, though, does not mean that there is no way for you to claim the wife’s child as your own. Filing a paternity petition – a motion in court to have a child’s paternity determined – can challenge this presumption.

Unmarried Fathers Have Several Options for Claiming Paternity

While men who are not married to a child’s mother are not presumed to be the child’s father, there are several ways for them to voluntarily claim legal paternity in New York.

Perhaps the most common way for an unmarried man to claim paternity over a child is to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity in the hospital after the birth of the child. This is a legal form that has to be signed by both parents. While this form can be rescinded by either parent within 60 days, it is just as binding as a court order of paternity. Interested fathers who cannot sign such an Acknowledgement, but who want to know if the there is a legal proceeding concerning the child and having to deal with paternity, foster care, or custody can also register with New York’s Putative Father Registry.

Unmarried fathers can also take steps to develop a parent / child relationship with the child. The closer this relationship becomes, the more likely a court will recognize you as the child’s legal father if it must make a paternity determination.

Family Law at the Bombardo Law Office, P.C.

At the Bombardo Law Office, P.C., we deal exclusively with family law matters, including paternity issues. Contact our firm at (315) 488-5544 or online if you want to take action to establish paternity of your child.

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