Legal paternity extends beyond a biological relationship. Regardless of whether a man is the biological parent of the child, he may be legally recognized as such. A man can have legal paternity established in New York in three main ways.
An acknowledged father is one who agrees that he is the father of a child that is born to unmarried parents. When a man acknowledges paternity in this way, he will then be recognized as the child's parent and will have the responsibility to pay child support.
Presumed fathers fall into four subcategories. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married to the child's mother at the time of conception or birth. A man will also be a presumed father if he tries to marry the mother around the time of conception or birth of a child. In situations where a man marries the child's mother after the child is born and allows his name to be placed on the child's birth certificate, he is legally presumed to be the father. Finally, a man will be presumed to be the child's father if he has held the child out to be his own following the child's birth and welcomed the child into his home.
Equitable paternity is when a man has a close relationship with the child despite not being the child's biological or adoptive father. In these cases, the child and man acknowledge their relationship as that of father and child. That man will assume the burden of paying child support.
In addition to the complications associated with determining paternity, decisions regarding child support and custody can be complex. Those who are involved in a dispute about those issues might benefit from discussing their case with an attorney who practices in family law.
Source: Findlaw, "Is the biological father the only person who can be legally recognized as the father?", December 24, 2014