The McCarthy Fingar Team

Paternity is the term by which a father is determined to have legally enforceable rights and responsibilities to his child. Paternity may be established in one of three ways: by presumption, by an acknowledgment, or by court order. If the parties were married at the time of the child’s birth, there is a presumption that the husband is the father of any children born during the marriage. If there is an issue of paternity, the experienced lawyers in our Matrimonial & Family Law group will bring their considerable skills to the problem. On this page, we provide answers to several frequently asked questions relating to paternity.

What is an Acknowledgment of Paternity?

Answer: An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a paper, usually filled out at the hospital at the time of a child’s birth, where the mother and father acknowledge that the man signing the paper is the father of the child. An Acknowledgment of Paternity is similar to an Order of Filiation and will permit a hospital or Department of Health to name the man as the child’s father on the birth certificate.

What is a Paternity Proceeding?

Answer: A paternity proceeding is commenced in Family Court and seeks a court order establishing paternity. A paternity proceeding names a child’s legal father.

Who is allowed to start a Paternity case?

Answer: The following people are allowed to start a paternity case:

  • the child’s mother;
  • the man who believes he is the father;
  • the child or the child’s guardian; or
  • the Department of Social Services, if the child is receiving public assistance.

What happens once a man is named as the legal father?

Answer: The man has the right to ask a court for legal custody or visitation rights to the child. He also has to pay child support if he is the noncustodial parent.

What happens if the mother was married to another man at the time the child was born?

Answer: The mother’s husband at the time of the child’s birth is the legal father of the child unless the evidence establishes that the father of the child is a different man. The evidence will usually include court testimony by the mother, by her husband at the time of the child’s birth, and by the man who is supposed to be the biological father. The court will generally order blood or DNA tests to establish the identity of the child’s biological father.

The McCarthy Fingar Approach in Paternity Disputes

Whether we represent the mother or the putative father, the lawyers in our Matrimonial & Family Law group will bring their many years of experience to develop a strategy on how a paternity issue should go forward.

Contact Us

If you think you may require the assistance of McCarthy Fingar’s Matrimonial & Family Law group, please contact Kristen Mackay Pennessi by email ( or by phone (914-385-1033).

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