Proving & Disproving New York Paternity: Attorney Explains Process

Proving, or disproving, paternity is more common than most people believe and involves legal issues that are often misunderstood. To clear up some of the confusion, we interviewed Elliot Schlissel, a Lynbrook New York based attorney who has been assisting clients in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County and New York City's five boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island for over 30 years. He explained how the New York paternity process works.

How is paternity proven in New York?

The father, the mother and the child are ordered to provide DNA material to a laboratory for DNA testing, according to Schlissel. “It should be noted that even if the DNA shows that there’s a 99 percent likelihood or better that the individual asserted to be the father is testing. They are very technical but our office has been successful in the past in knocking out DNA tests based on the manner in which the DNA material is handled.”

What should a man do if he is served with a paternity petition?

The first thing he should do is retain experienced New York lawyer familiar with paternity issues, Schlissel said. “Paternity petitions are returnable in the Family Court in New York State. If you don’t have an attorney at the time of your first court appearance, you should ask the judge for an adjournment to give you time to retain counsel.”

What happens if the Family Court finds that a man is the father of a child?

The second step after paternity is established in the Family Court is to establish child support, Schlissel told us. He explained what happens next:

The court will move forward with a child support hearing. The father will have to pay a percentage of his gross wages 17 percent for one child; 25 percent for two children, and 29 percent for three children minus FICA (the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, which are the taxes your employer withholds). In addition, he will have to contribute to the cost of medical insurance and babysitting expenses if the mother of the child works during the day or evening.

Long term consequences are great

There are long-term consequences of being declared the father of child in a paternity proceeding. Child support payments in the state of New York will become the obligation of the father until such time as the child is 21 years of age or if the child is fully emancipated, until the child reaches 18 years of age. This is a lot of child support, according to Schlissel, which is why paternity issues should never be handled without the counsel of an experienced adoption, support and child custody lawyer.