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Purposes of Paternity Cases and How They Work


There are a number of reasons why people pursue paternity cases, such as:

  • A man suspects he is the child’s father and wants the legal right to help the child
  • A man does not believe he is the biological father and wants to avoid child support
  • A mother wants to seek child support from the father but needs to prove paternity
  • A mother wants to prove a man is not the child’s father to avoid sharing custody

Whatever the reason is, legal avenues exist for people to establish paternity. In the New York court system, a family court hears paternity cases and decides parentage. People who can bring a paternity suit include:

  • The child’s mother
  • The man alleging he is the father
  • The child
  • The child’s guardian
  • Department of Social Services (for children receiving public assistance)

A family law attorney can file a petition on behalf of the client for a paternity action. Both parties in the case have a right to hire an attorney. A Family Court judge, referee, or hearing examiner hears the case, examines the evidence, and listens to testimony. Evidence may include DNA testing results. Generally, when a woman is married, there is a presumption that her husband is the legal father of the child unless the court finds differently through DNA testing or other evidence.

Once the court decides paternity, it issues an Order of Filiation, which is a court order that names the child’s legal father.

If you are concerned about paternity, discuss your issues with a New York family law attorney.