Paternity Establishment: Acknowledgment of Paternity
An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a legal document . If both parents complete it as instructed, it has the same force and effect as a court order establishing paternity for the child.
Signing the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form is NOT for everyone.
In New York State, parents of children born out-of-wedlock may sign the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form unless:
- the mother was married at any time during the pregnancy
- there is more than one man who could be the father
- the child is not born yet
What should parents keep in mind when signing the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form?
It is important that both parents understand the legal consequences and implications of signing the form. Both parents should read their rights thoroughly, or have someone read it to them. Parents can sign the form at the hospital, in a social services agency, or at their local birth registrar's office. Parents must file the form at the registrar for the hospital where the child was born.
What if there is doubt as to who is the biological father?
If there is any doubt about the identity of the biological father, parents should not complete a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity.
The Acknowledgment of Paternity form is legally binding. By signing the form, the father waives his rights to a court hearing. In New York State, parents are responsible for supporting their children until 21 years of age which is a long time to provide support if a man is not sure he's the biological father.
What happens when the paternity of a child is contested or there is no acknowledgment?
If there is uncertainty about the biological father, or one of the parties involved challenges paternity, then a CSE caseworker can help file a paternity petition to go to Family Court. Under New York State Law, the court can order the mother, the child, and the alleged father to submit to DNA testing .