No one can predict the future. You may have a good, fruitful relationship with your child’s other parent today. However, that situation can change. After all, if you are not involved with this person romantically, there is a reason. Even if you are in a long-term relationship with them, you can’t guarantee that it will last forever.
If your relationship with your child’s other parent goes sour, you could find yourself in several legal binds. This is especially true if you have not officially established paternity.
Paternity is the legal term for fatherhood. Put simply, when you establish paternity, you are now legally recognized as that child’s father. Once you attain legal parenthood, you have it forever. No one can take it away from you. You can lose your rights only if you are deemed an unfit parent. Chances are, if you care enough to establish paternity, this situation will not apply to you.
Here are some benefits that permanent paternity provides.
You Have a Right to Custody and Visitation
Typically, courts are not interested in separating kids from their parents. If you appeal to the court for custody or visitation, and the court believes you are a benefit to the kids, you will probably get what you want.
This is not to suggest that there won’t be obstacles. The other parent may want to block you just out of spite. A good attorney can help reveal these bad intentions, and a reasonable court will see the truth.
Once a parenting plan is finalized, it cannot be ignored. Both parents must meet certain obligations. If they don’t, the plan will have consequences built in. Your schedule for custody and visitation lies within this plan. If changes are necessary, both parents must agree and sign off on them, or they must be decided in court.
You Can Earn Decision-Making Authority
Depending on your parenting plan, you may be able to actively make choices for your kids. For instance, a plan can give parents power over healthcare decisions, educational matters, and more.
Of course, you must negotiate this plan with the other parent, or the court must make these decisions. Make sure you talk to a skilled attorney when handling parental concerns in court. They can help you build a case that demonstrates how your involvement is in the best interests of your children.
You Have the Right to Provide for Your Children
Adult relationships are complicated. Sometimes, people reject things that can benefit them simply out of pride or spite. This is sometimes true for child support. The receiving parent attempts to refuse money as a way of keeping the father out of the kids’ lives.
As a legal father, you have the right to pay child support. Some view child support as a burden. For many, however, it allows them to stay involved and provide for their children.
Remember, child support is not a financial exchange between adults. Any money you spend on support is to be used on the children alone. If a parent spends child support on themselves, they can suffer legal consequences.
Fathers with legal paternity can also put their children on various benefit plans, including healthcare. Some programs, like the military, have many benefits that family members can enjoy.
How to Get Paternity in New York
If you have no resistance from the other parent, you can simply sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage (AOP) together. Both signatures must be present for the paperwork to clear. (Generally, this document applies to heterosexual parents. For same-sex fathers, it may be necessary to adopt.)
Otherwise, it will be necessary to go through the court system. This method can go smoothly, or it can be a long, laborious process. It all depends on the details of your case and the actions of the people involved.
First, you must file a paternity claim. This will involve paperwork, claims, and possibly even DNA testing. If you don’t meet any resistance, you can simply wait for the documentation to process.
If the other parent tries to block your paternity, you will have a fight on your hands. Courts rule in the best interests of children. You will need to build a case for your fatherhood, proving that the child is better off with you in their life. This may require evidence such as witness testimony and documentation. The court may even interview your children directly.
No matter which path you take, you should include the services of a good attorney. At best, they can simply help make sure you’ve done everything you need to do, and you’ll have an easy experience. At worst, they can help you fight an uphill battle to secure your rights. Either way, their services will be valuable, and you will be glad for the assistance.
For help establishing paternity in New York, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach us at (516) 514-3868, and you can also schedule time with us online.