While New York state laws indicate that fathers have equal parenting rights, this may not always be the case. It is common to hear about fathers who may not take responsibility for the well-being of their child, or in some cases, even acknowledge a child as their own. However, there are many fathers who are willing to fight diligently for their parental rights, and sometimes feel they have to take on the world to get them. A first step in protecting your rights as a father is to prove paternity. In New York, a child is deemed to have no legal father if the couple are unmarried at the time of the child's birth. This means that the father has no rights until paternity is established.
There are typically two ways to prove that you are a child's legal father. One way is both you and the child's mother sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the time of the child's birth. It is also possible to complete such a form at a later date. When parents agree, and this form is completed, it certainly keeps the best interests of the child as the priority. However, this is not always agreeable to both parents, particularly in the case of an end to a relationship. The second way to establish you are the father is through DNA testing which will determine the likelihood that you are the child's father.
When you are an unmarried father fighting for your parental rights, it is in your best interests to obtain legal counsel who can represent you in not only establishing your child's paternity but also advocating ensuring your parental rights are protected.
If you are being challenged and feel overwhelmed with the often-difficult task of ensuring your parental rights are protected, let an experienced child custody attorney help. They will ensure your fathers' rights are legally established.