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Asserting Your Paternal Rights

Ariel Castro, the Ohio man accused of holding three women captive in his home in Cleveland, has been confirmed as the father of a six-year-old girl that escaped from the house along with the other women. Castro, who has been indicted by a grand jury on 329 charges for rape and kidnapping, was found to be the father of Amanda Berry’s daughter after undergoing DNA testing.

What are my rights?

Under New York law, if you father a child outside of marriage, you are not considered the child’s father unless you either sign an acknowledgement of paternity, usually at the hospital, or have a court make an order of filiation declaring you to be the legal father. If the mother of the child was married to another man at the time when the child was conceived or born, it creates an additional level of complication. The husband of the mother is automatically considered the legal father, even if not the biological father. This presumption can be rebutted through a court order. Without acknowledging paternity or obtaining an order of filiation, you do not have rights of visitation or custody of the child, and have no obligation of child support.

How do I file for paternity?

If you believe you are the father of a child, you can file a paternity petition. The biological mother, the child, or the child’s guardian can also file the petition. If the mother was married to someone else, the petition must be served upon the husband to notify him.

If the mother was unmarried when the child was conceived or born, you can testify that you are the father, and the court makes an order of filiation. If paternity is contested, the court can order blood or DNA tests to be carried out.

For more information on parental rights and custody, arrange a consultation with a supportive New York paternity lawyer.

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