Every child has a mother and a father. But there are many situations where the father’s identity may be unclear. Under New York law, if a child is born to a married couple, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father. But as we know, there are many children of unmarried couples in Fulton County. So how does the law establish paternity in those cases?

At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, our skilled Fulton County paternity lawyers can help you if you are either the mother or likely father of a child. Establishing paternity is not just a matter of securing your child’s identity. By law, a legal father must provide support for his children. Children also enjoy certain legal benefits, such as medical or life insurance through their father, and the right to inherit under New York intestate succession law if the father dies without leaving a will. For these and other reasons, it is critical to resolve any dispute regarding your child’s paternity in a timely manner.

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Voluntary vs. Court-Ordered Paternity

If a child’s parents are unmarried at the time of birth, a father can still establish paternity by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This form is commonly available at hospitals and local Fulton County government offices. Ideally, this form should be executed just after the child is born, and both parents must sign it in order to legally establish paternity.

But if it is not possible to settle paternity through a voluntary acknowledgment, then a formal court proceeding will be necessary. In Fulton County you must seek what is known as an “order of filiation.” This is a legal declaration signed by a judge that conclusively establishes the father’s paternity, which is typically done through DNA testing of all parties concerned.

Protecting Your Rights as a Parent in Fulton County

After the judge issues an order of filiation, the mother may opt to seek child support payments from the father in a future legal proceeding. For his part, the father may seek visitation rights or even outright custody. Keep in mind, New York law does not discriminate against parental rights on the basis of sex or marital status. A Fulton County judge will not automatically assume that a father is less responsible or less capable of caring for his children than the mother.

Paternity cases are often emotionally charged. It is usually best for all parties concerned–especially the child–if paternity can be established without the need for an extended court case. At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, we can walk you through each stage of the paternity process. We can communicate with other parent (and their attorney) on your behalf to avoid any misunderstandings and reach a voluntary agreement that satisfies all parties. But if necessary, we can prepare and present your case to a judge.

Regardless of your relationship to a child, our Fulton County paternity lawyers are here to help you. Call us at 518-513-0544 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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