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Challenging paternity in New York State

While paternity battles are nothing new to the American court system, the number of these cases is on the rise. Paternity, which is determined by presumption (a child born into wedlock), consent (acknowledging a child born out of wedlock), or by court order, is often the center of tense custody battles. Therefore, it is especially important for fathers looking to challenge paternity to understand their rights and know what to expect during the process. 

What are reasonable grounds for challenging paternity?

In the state of New York, the following situations are recognized as valid reasons for challenging paternity:

  • Knowledge that the mother was unfaithful around the time of conception
  • Clinical diagnosis of infertility or sterility
  • Evidence of erroneous lab results
  • Lab results that have been tampered with

Is there a time frame in which paternity may no longer be challenged?

An Acknowledgement of Paternity, which is usually signed at the hospital after the child's birth, can be withdrawn within 60 days of the signing. However, in the state of New York, either the mother or the father may challenge paternity in court even if the time limit has expired if - and only if - the Acknowledgement of Paternity was signed:

  • Under duress
  • Fraudulently
  • Due to mistaken information

The party wishing to challenge paternity bears the burden of proof.

What is my first step?

The first step is to file a Paternity Petition; in New York, these matters are handled in Family Court. Once a court date is set, the judge will hear the testimony of the person who filed the petition and the person it was filed against. The judge may order DNA tests to confirm or disprove any allegations, and the child's legal father will be officially named in a court order.

How can an attorney help me in this process?

Paternity cases and consequently custody battles are often complex and emotionally charged. Lawyers who are knowledgeable and well-versed in New York family law can help guide you through your case and ensure that your legal rights are protected and upheld.

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