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Voluntary and formal paternity proceedings

While it used to be less common, many New York parents are having children before they get married. In these cases, an unmarried father may sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity in order to establish legal rights to his child. If an alleged father did not sign the such an acknowledgement at the birth of the child, refuses to sign it or is blocked by the mother, there are several ways by which the father may be declared the child's legal father.

In many cases, an unmarried father wishes to be involved in the life of his child. However, before paying child support or committing time to raising the child, he may wish to determine whether or not he is the child's biological father. In other cases, a man may have fathered a child but was unaware until a later date. A DNA test can easily determine if he is indeed the child's biological father, which allows the mother and the father to take the next steps.

If the alleged father or mother refuse to acknowledge that the alleged father may be the child's biological father, either parties may file a civil lawsuit. Not only will a DNA test be ordered, but either party may then wish to seek custody, visitation or child support.

When it comes to a child, establishing paternity can be extremely important for all concerned. A family law attorney can assist either a mother or alleged father in such a process. If it is determined that a man is the child's biological father, the attorney may assist with seeking custody of the child or working out a child support agreement that benefits the child. Additionally, the attorney may work out a visitation schedule that allows the father to have a strong relationship with their child.

Source: FindLaw, "Paternity Determinations: Voluntary and Formal Proceedings", accessed on Feb. 18, 2015

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