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.

The New York Family Court Act allows paternity proceedings to be initiated until a person is 21 years of age. According to Matter of Shondel, a person in doubt about whether he is the father of a child must request a DNA test prior to assuming the role of a father. Otherwise, he may be precluded from doing so in the future if it is not within the “best interest of the child”. In addition, a woman seeking to have a partner take a DNA test after a father-child relationship is already established may be precluded from doing so, if it will negatively impact the child.  

The breakup of a family by death, divorce or desertion can have a very negative impact on the children. Sometimes the children are used as pawns and the parents having control will show their hostility by depriving the other parent and his or her parents...

Visitation, now known as “parenting time” is a right that belongs to the child as well as to the non-custodial parent. Limiting a parents’ parenting time should only be done upon good cause. Denial of a parent’s right to visit with his children is a...

In the absence of surrender, abandonment, persisting neglect, unfitness or other like extraordinary circumstances, a parent may not be denied custody.¹  The right of a parent to raise his or her own child is a fundamental right subject to the protection of the Due Process...