There was a time that a child of parents not married to each other suffered certain civil disabilities. He 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 born to single parents are invalid as violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Untied States Constitution. In New York, Family Law Court Act §417 says, “A child born of parents who at any time prior to 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 year are chargeable with the support of such child….”
Establishing Legal Paternity Is Crucial
Everyone knows who a child’s mother is, but proving who the father is requires a DNA test. Today, modern DNA tests can prove who is the father of a child to a 98 or 99 percent certainty. That is close enough to be positive. DNA tests today are not blood tests. Instead, a saliva sample is taken from 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 ever raising such a 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 required to support the child, but he also will have all of the rights and privileges of parenthood, including parenting time (visitation), summer vacation, and information about the child’s schooling, medical treatment, and religious training.
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