Unmarried Parents and Custody

There was a time that a child of parents not married to each other suffered serious civil disabilities. Such a child could not  inherit from his father, nor could he be identified as the father’s son. Over the centuries, the law has been eased, and today a series of Supreme Court decisions have held that most common-law disabilities imposed upon children of single parents are invalid as violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In New York, Family Court Act §417 says, “A child born of parents who at any time prior or subsequent to the birth of said child shall have entered into a ceremonial marriage shall be deemed the legitimate child of both parents … regardless of the validity of such marriage.”

That is fine if the parents were married before or even after the child was born, but what about the case where the parents never were married and have no intention of marrying each other? The Family Court Act says, “… the parents of a child under the age of 21 years are chargeable with the support of such child….”

Everyone knows who a child’s mother is, but proving who the father is requires a DNA test. Modern DNA tests can prove who is the father of a child to a 98 or 99 percent certainty. That will establish fatherhood. DNA tests today are not blood tests. Instead, a swab is taken of the inside of the cheeks of both parents and the child.

The law has evolved to such an extent that if a putative father does nothing to deny paternity, he may be prevented from every raising the denial, he will be declared to be the father, and he will be charged with child support.

If paternity is admitted, or once it has been proven, the father will be entitled not only to the obligations of child support, but also to all of the rights and privileges of parenthood, including parenting time (visitation), summer vacation, and information about the child’s school, medical treatment, and religious training.

Are a single parent? Is the other parent being difficult?

Call today! 516 319-2000.