New York Paternity: What You Need To Know

Paternity deals with the establishment as to who the father of a child is. It is obvious who the mother is, but in situations where there has been more than one sexual partner, the issue of paternity becomes extremely important for a variety of reasons, according to our New York legal expert. He provides the information you need to know about paternity issues in New York.

New York Attorney Elliot Schlissel

Elliot Schlissel, a New York paternity lawyer who has been assisting clients for over 30 years in the New York metropolitan area and in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, says that paternity becomes important because the father of the child:

  • will have to pay child support until the child is 21 or if the child is emancipated earlier, until 18
  • is entitled to visitation rights with his child. To obtain visitation, a man must first establish he is the father

He says that paternity proceedings are designed to accomplish these. He explained:

Paternity proceedings in the State of New York are handled by the Family Court. The most common way of handling these matters is for the Family Courts to order DNA testing. If the DNA tests are properly handled, the courts can obtain evidence from these tests that are over 99.9 percent accurate as to whether the individual who claims to be the father (or who the mother says is the father) is actually the father of that child.

However, disproving paternity can also be done. Schlissel say that his office has had some unique experiences in litigating DNA testing and has had success in having DNA tests thrown out and rendered inadmissible in court. He told us that the manner which DNA tests can be challenged is through the methodology used in the testing and the handling of the material by the laboratory.

Overcoming presumptions of marriage

The child of a married woman who becomes pregnant is always presumed to be that of the woman's husband, according to Schlissel. He says that this is true even if the wife lives in New York and the husband lives in California – and they don’t visit. He explained:

The law creates a presumption that children born in a wedlock situation are the children of the husband and wife. However, there are situations we have been involved in where married women have affairs and give birth to a child. If there was access to the woman’s lover within the gestation period, the father must go into court, force the mother into court and then obtain DNA testing of the father, the mother and the child to determine whether the out of wedlock lover is the father of the child. I have been litigating a number of those cases very recently and I can tell you that these are no longer unique issues.

What happens after paternity is established?

After paternity is established, courts will very often move on to child support hearings to determine the level of child support to be paid and the father can also move for either custody or visitation, according to Schlissel:

A father’s visitation in New York is generally very liberal. The courts look to give fathers virtually equal access to their children. Courts now recognize the importance that fathers play in the nurturing of their children and their development. Courts feel it’s important for a father to be part of his childrens’ lives and they seek to promote this. A father that doesn’t have custody is entitled to not only visitation during weekends and weekdays, but also on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, federal holidays, Father’s Day and on the child’s birthday.

Paternity issues can be very complicated and filled with emotion. An experienced adoption, support and custody lawyer can evaluate your situation quickly and efficiently and answer any questions you might have in a free and confidential consultation.