When a child is born to parents who are not married to each other, the biological father is not considered the child’s legal parent.
In New York, in approximately 40% of all births the parents aren’t married to each other. Specific legal steps must be taken before the biological father is recognized as the legal parent of the child. Either parent, the child or the child’s legal guardian can begin this legal process.
How to Be Named the Child’s Legal Father
- The easiest way is to sign an “Acknowledgment of Paternity” form at the hospital when the child is born. It states the man is the child’s father.
- Otherwise, file a Family Court petition seeking an “order of filiation” declaring the man is the legal father. The court will order genetic testing.
Rights and Obligations of the Acknowledged Father
Becoming the legal parent carries both rights and responsibilities. The primary focus of New York family law is to protect the best interests of the child.
- A man who isn’t married to the child’s mother or the acknowledged father has no legal obligation to pay child support.
- Similarly, a man who isn’t the child’s legal father has no custody or visitation rights. The only way to obtain these rights is to sign the form when the child is born; you could submit a petition through an order of filiation as well.
Other than child support and custody, issues can arise such as access to medical records, inheritance and adoption. Those can impact both the father and child. For these reasons, it can be helpful and necessary for the biological father to become legally acknowledged as the child’s parent.
If a man was not married to the mother of the child, he has no obligation to pay support for the child. He also has no legal right to custody or visitation with the child; unless legally named as the father of the child, through an order of filiation or acknowledgment of paternity.Get Started Today