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The importance of establishing paternity for child support

Children rely on their parents for almost everything as they grow up in New York. The parents must, at a minimum, provide food, clothing and shelter. However, as many parents know, there are many more costs as well. There are medical costs, extracurricular activities, entertainment, toys and many other costs. Parents are required to provide for these costs whether they are married, divorced or never married in the first place.

The only thing that varies is how each parent contributes to these expenses. When the parents are separated, it is usually done through child support. But, before anybody will have to pay child support, first the court must know who the identity of the parents. It is easy to determine who the mother of the child is, but determining the identity of the father can be more difficult.

Paternity must be established before one can be required to pay child support. This can be done in a couple of different ways. One is by both parents signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This is a separate document than a birth certificate. Simply signing a birth certificate does not make the man the legal father of the child.

The other way is that the court may issue an Order of Filiation. The father can either consent to this order or contest it. If the father contests it, then the court will order DNA testing. If the results of the testing demonstrate that the man is the father, there is a rebuttable presumption that he is the father. If the man does not agree, the burden shifts to him to prove he is not the father. If he cannot do that, he will be determined to be the father.

Many fathers in New York are not married to or no longer in a relationship with the mother of the child. The mother may seek child support from the father, but before she can do so, paternity must be established in court. This can be done based on agreement of the parties or by DNA testing. These can be complicated matters though, and attorneys may be a useful resource.

Source: NYCBar.org, "Child Support: Questions and Answers," accessed on Oct. 4, 2016

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