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When and how to challenge paternity

Knowing the identity of a child's father is very important when custody matters arise in New York. A child's mother and father have rights and responsibilities concerning a child that others do not. Determining paternity may allow a father access to a child or allow a guardian to receive support from a father.

Valid reasons for challenging paternity may include evidence of infertility or sterility, proof the results were tampered with or fraudulent or tainted lab results. Additionally, paternity can be challenged when there is proof that a child was born into a marriage in which the mother was not faithful to her spouse.

An individual may benefit from contacting a family law court when beginning the process of challenging paternity. After filing a complaint with the court, DNA tests or blood tests may be ordered. Blood tests can determine whether a man and child are biologically related but cannot guarantee paternity. DNA tests are more accurate and can identify the father of a child. The process is finalized when the court issues an order to name the father. In some cases, other evidence, like medical records, might be used to discredit paternity. A judge may have concerns about challenging paternity when it will harm a child's emotional or psychological state.

Family courts in New York make decisions with the best interests of the child in mind, and courts generally believe it is best for both parents to be involved in a child's life. If paternity is established, the father could seek court-ordered visitation of the child. Establishing paternity might also lead a judge to rule that a father has to pay child support.

Source: Findlaw, "Challenging Paternity", December 02, 2014

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