How Does Paternity Effect Child Support & Child Custody?
Typically, paternity on Long Island is determined before a child custody or child support order is finalized. However, there are occasionally cases in which a temporary custody order has already been arranged and paternity is established later. In rare cases, a married couple may even find that the husband is not the child’s biological father later on in the marriage, sometimes years later.
If a paternity test proves the father is not the child’s biological parent, will the custody order become invalid? Here’s what you should know.
Emergency Custody Orders on Long Island
When a couple with children separates, whether or not they are married, emergency custody should be determined as quickly as possible. New York family courts will generally award temporary custody to the parent who has already been primarily caring for the children, whether that is the mother or father. Then, a hearing for permanent custody can be set.
In cases where the couple is married, paternity testing usually won’t be done. If the couple is unmarried, paternity will need to be established. However, temporary custody may be awarded to a parent who is later proven to not be biologically related to the child.
When Paternity Testing Disproves a Child’s Father Is Their Biological Parent
If the father of the child is proven not to be their biological parent, he loses parental rights and cannot be pursued for child support. If he already has some form of custody or visitation with the children, it becomes optional; the mother does not have to allow him to spend time with the children nor can he demand it.
That said, this may not necessarily be the case in rare instances where a husband is later proven not to be the father of the children he raised in the marriage as his own. A court may rule that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain some sort of relationship with their father figure. Of course, the children’s biological father would then have the opportunity to assert his parental rights and gain visitation with his children. He would also be subject to paying child support for his biological children.
Modifying a Child Custody or Support Order
For changes to a child custody or child support order on Long Island to be made, the court must be involved and a formal modification must be issued. When a father is proven not to be the biological parent of a child, a hearing is typically scheduled immediately to modify any existing agreements. While it is never advisable to stop paying support until you have a court order stating you are not responsible, if you have legal proof on record with the courts that you are not the biological father you may not face penalties if you stop paying child support or discontinue your visitation obligations before a formal modification is issued. This is because to enforce child support payments or visitation, paternity must be on record. A court must verify paternity to pursue back child support or garnish the wages of non-paying parents, so at that point, anything you owed would likely be written off.
However, this is where the law gets more complex and involved, so it’s best to consult an attorney at every stage of the process. Your lawyer can help make sure you’re not in breach of any agreements that you can legally be held accountable for.
Get Help with Paternity Testing & Child Custody or Support Modifications From an Experienced Long Island Divorce Lawyer
Sorting out legal paternity, child custody, and child support can be challenging. If you’re going through the process of dissolving your marriage at the same time, this can be very difficult. If you have an existing child custody order in place and paternity testing disproves a biological relation to the father, you need legal support as soon as possible.
An experienced family lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of obtaining legal paternity testing and modifying a child custody or child support order after the fact. Don’t wait to get legal help when family legal matters arise; it’s in your family’s best interests to be represented by an experienced and skilled family law attorney.
Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today to learn more about paternity, child custody, support, and other family legal issues and how a veteran New York divorce lawyer can help. Call today for your initial consultation by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page.
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