The Parental Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Typically, discussions about family law revolve around families where both parents are presumed to be married and the children are either descended from at least one of the parents or adopted. However, with unmarried cohabitation growing increasingly common, the rights of parents whose children were born out of wedlock has become more relevant than ever. In particular, the rights of unmarried fathers are of importance, as fathers do not necessarily have the same rights they would have if their children were born while they were married to the mother of their children.

                When a woman gives birth to a child outside of marriage, she is still presumed to have legal custody of her child. The same is not true of men, who first must establish that they are the father of the child, either by submitting to a paternity test or by signing a voluntary “Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. Once they do that (and assuming their paternity is not contested) they can ask the court to grant them an order of filiation, which establishes the rights and obligations they would normally receive as the father of the child.

                There several reasons you might want to do this. First, establishing you are the father of a child allows you to potentially obtain custodial rights or parenting time with the child in question. Second, a child of an unmarried parent has the right to be covered under either parent’s health insurance and to receive financial support. Third, the child of unmarried parents may still inherit from their parents, if parentage has been legally established and either parent dies without a will. Finally, the mother of a child born out of wedlock may ask for paternity to be established so she can formally seek child support from the court.

While it can be overwhelming to navigate the complexities surrounding your rights as a father, especially as an unmarried father, seeking the guidance of an experienced New York family law attorney may be crucial to protecting the best interests of your child. Contact the family lawyers at Mangi and Graham. They have extensive experience in negotiating and litigating child custody, child support and related matters in both Supreme Court and Family Court and can help you settle your dispute. Call (516) 294-1949 for more information, or contact us to book a free consultation.