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Paternal Rights for Unwed Fathers: What to Do When There are Doubts

Do not sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity if you are unsure whether you are a child’s father. Once you sign, New York allows just 60 days to rescind your acknowledgement. By signing, you waive your right to deny paternity. The only way to get out of the agreement is to retain a lawyer to prove that you were compelled by fraud, duress or mistake of fact to sign the form. In the meantime, you are responsible for child support payments.

Other custody and support considerations

If you are living with your child’s mother, there is no automatic obligation to pay child support. However, if you split up with the child’s mother, the parent who has primary custody can establish an obligation to pay child support by petitioning the New York Division of Child Support Enforcement (DYSE). You should also know that NYDCSE helps parents to modify child support obligations based on custodial arrangements and job status.

In general, there are two types of custody you should be aware of:

  • Joint physical custody allows your child to spend an equitable amount of time in your home and the home of the mother. Child support obligations still apply to the parent who has the highest income even if there is an exact 50-50 split of parenting time between the two households.
  • Joint legal custody gives you a say in how your child is raised — where he or she goes to school, what religion he or she follows, what types of extracurricular activities he or she engages in and what kinds of medical care he or she should receive. Sole legal custody gives one parent exclusive rights.

For more information about father’s rights, contact an experienced family lawyer.

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