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Establishing paternity for child support purposes

When married parents in White Plains divorce and one parent is granted primary custody of the child, the other parent may be required to pay child support. This support is essential for providing the child with the quality of life needed to grow and thrive. However, what if a child's parents were never married and broke up after the child was born? In situations like that, before there can be a child support order, paternity must be established.

By establishing paternity, the child's father can be deemed the child's biological and legal father. This gives the child's mother the right to seek child support from him, and it allows the father to seek custody and visitation rights, if he wishes. One way to establish paternity is through an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This is a form signed by both parents stating that the man is the child's father. It is available at the hospital where the birth took place, at the parent's area child support office and at the parent's area birth registrar. After signing, the father's name will be included on the child's birth certificate.

Acknowledgement of Paternity forms can only be filed if the parties are unmarried. Different processes must be followed if, during any point in her pregnancy, the woman was married. Also, they can only be signed voluntarily. This means that if either parent is not certain that the man is the child's biological father, they should not sign the form. Forms can always be signed further on down the road, or either parent can go to Family Court to seek a court order stating who the child's biological father is through a DNA test. This is known as an Order of Filiation.

As this shows, for unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship with one another, certain steps must be taken before the child's biological father can be responsible for paying child support. Parents with questions about paternity and child support should seek more information to understand their legal rights and responsibilities.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Acknowledgment of Paternity," Accessed Sept. 10, 2017

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