Select Page

Long Island Family Law Attorney: How to Establish Paternity

As a Family Law Attorney practicing on Long Island for many years, I have seen an increasing concern with the issue of paternity, or establishing the identity of the father of those children over the past several years.

Having a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a man’s life. For many men, however, things often become difficult when it’s no longer possible to have a relationship with the child’s mother. They then have to face and deal with legal matters like child custody, visitation, and child support, in addition to potentially dealing with the divorce or separation itself.

Paternity testing can be an important issue in many family law cases, however, it’s often overlooked as more pressing matters come to the forefront of the case. Below are some important paternity testing tips for Long Island fathers and how to get the experienced legal help you need in a paternity case.

40% of Children Born in U.S. are to Unwed Mothers

Did you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40.5 percent of all babies born in the U.S. in 2020 were born to unwed mothers? While this percentage has increased only 0.5% since 2015, establishing paternity is still a large issue for many Americans, and Long Islanders.

What is Paternity?

Paternity, generally, is being legally recognized as a child’s father. In the context of a New York Divorce or Family Court proceeding, it provides you with the legal status as a particular child’s father, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with that designation.

So what does it mean to be a child’s legal father? At a minimum, when you are given the status as a legal father, you now have responsibilities. You are responsible, both legally and financially, for that child. In addition to those responsibilities, you also have rights to parenting time and, possibly, custody of your child. You are entitled to have a meaningful relationship with your child, which most would agree far outweighs any “burdens” placed upon you in your new role.

Establishing Paternity

In New York, there are a few ways to establish paternity. Here, I will discuss the three most commonly used methods:

#1. Marital Presumption

#2. Acknowledgment of Paternity

#3. Court Petitions

#1. Marital Presumption

We’ll start with the most self-explanatory of the three. Marital Presumption is exactly what it sounds like. If a child is born to a married couple, that child is presumptively that married couples’ offspring. While very straight-forward, taking advantage of the Marital Presumption is not always an option. With 40.5 percent of all babies born to unwed mothers, it is there’s a good chance that the Marital Presumption will not apply in your case. You are not alone. Almost half of the children being born today will be born to an unmarried mother.

#2. Acknowledgment of Paternity

An Acknowledgment of Paternity may be utilized if the biological parents of the child are not married. Typically, at the hospital when the child is born, both the mother and father of the child will sign a form stating that the man who signed this form is the father of the child. The original Acknowledgment of Paternity must be filed no later than five days after it is signed.

#3. Court Petitions

If neither of the previous two exist, an alleged father may file a Petition for Paternity with the Family Court. This petition says that, while the mother and alleged father are neither married nor have a signed Acknowledgment of Paternity, the alleged father wishes to establish a legally recognizable relationship with the subject child.

Be advised, however, that this is the least ideal situation of the three. There are a few reasons for this.

First, the Court may order a DNA test for both you and the child. Notice, however, that I used the phrase “may” order a DNA test; not “must”. This is where the Petition can get tricky. Let’s say that Mom has a child out of wedlock. She has the baby and begins dating a person who is not the biological father of the child; let’s call him “Boyfriend”. Boyfriend is a father in every sense of the word except biologically to the child – the child calls him “dad,” he financially supports the child, takes the child to school, to doctor’s appointments, cooks the child dinner, teaches the child to throw a ball and ride a bike. Some time later, Mom and Boyfriend get married and a few years down the road, a person who had a previous sexual relationship (let’s call him “Dad”) with Mom learns that Mom had a baby. The timing coincides with his relationship with Mom and he believes that he is the father of the child. This person files a Petition for Paternity, asking the Court to order a genetic marker test to see if the child is his. In this particular case, the Court may not order the test.

This probably seems incredibly unfair. What if Dad is the biological father, shouldn’t he have the right to a relationship with his child? New York State courts may decide to put the best interests of the child ahead of the alleged father’s rights. If the child has relied on another man’s representations, in this case Boyfriend, that he was the child’s father, ripping the child away from the father he or she knows would likely be incredibly detrimental to the child. In this case, regardless of the fact that Dad might be the biological father of the child, he may not be able to assert his paternity rights. If the Court denies his request for a DNA test, he will not be able to seek custody or even visitation with the child and he will not be financially nor legally responsible for the child. This is why time is often of the essence.

While this may be a bitter pill to swallow, it is best to keep in mind that this decision was made in order to protect the child. Imagine a young boy or girl spending his or her formative years thinking Boyfriend was his or her father and then, all of a sudden, Dad is his or her father. This can obviously cause incredible confusion for a young child, which may lead to emotional or behavioral challenges. This concept is why it is so important to make every attempt to take advantage of your rights as soon as you suspect you may have fathered a child.

If You Weren’t Married, Get a Paternity Test

If you weren’t married to the mother of your child at the time of your child’s birth, you should get a paternity test as soon as possible. Even if you don’t doubt that you’re the father of the child, having paternity legally established at the start of your custody case is in your best interests.

Why Do I Need a Paternity Test?

As stated earlier, in New York, like many other states, married men are automatically awarded fathers’ rights to children from that marriage, regardless of biological connection. If another man claims to be the father of the child or the married man claims not to be the father, a paternity test must be done. This determines which man has legal rights with regard to the child and/or from whom the mother of the child has the right to pursue child support.

However, if no objections are made to the contrary, married men do not have to prove their biological relation to the child to pursue custody and visitation or to be pursued for child support. If you were not married at the time of the child’s birth, a paternity test will need to be done before you can exercise your parental rights or be ordered to pay child support.

Choose the Right Kind of Paternity Test

If your child custody and support case requires paternity to be established, you need to have a legal paternity test done. Any other type of paternity test may not be valid from a legal perspective.

Why Is the Type of Paternity Test Important?

Not all types of paternity tests are considered admissible in court. For example, a home paternity test may give you and your ex some assurance of whether or not you are the biological father of a child, but a court will not accept these results as proof of paternity before awarding custody or making a child support determination.

This is because it’s impossible to prove that a test conducted at home was performed properly or even conducted on the parties involved in the case. To be considered valid by a court, a paternity test must be conducted by a medical professional at a facility equipped to do so without breaking the chain of custody or contaminating the DNA sample.

So You’ve Established Paternity, Now What?

As a result of paternity being established, many new issues may quickly arise. The next major steps will be to get meaningful parenting time and to determine what your new responsibilities entail.

Understand Long Island Fathers’ Rights

Before heading into a custody battle or a child support hearing, you need to have a good understanding of what your rights are as the father of a child in New York.

Why Are Father’s Rights So Important?

While New York courts have made significant progress from the days of assuming that a child was always better off with their mother, some believe they’ve not come far enough. Mothers tend to still be favored over fathers in child custody cases, with the exception of situations that clearly involve child abuse, domestic violence, or drug and alcohol abuse.

Often, fathers’ rights simply remain unaddressed by family courts unless the father of the child is vocal about his right to access his child and make legal decisions regarding their health, education, and wellbeing. However, fathers who are insistent upon exercising their parental rights are generally granted their requests, unless the mother can show evidence of abuse or violence perpetrated by the father.

Contact an Experienced Long Island Family Law Attorney with Your Paternity Questions

If you have questions about establishing Paternity in courts on Long Island, it’s best to contact an experienced Long Island Family Law attorney right away. The family law firm of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can assist you with establishing paternity and advocate for you in court, alleviating some of the stress that comes with the process. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page for a free consultation.

 

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION TODAY
Call 631-9231910 or fill in the form below

Long Island Divorce Law Firm partners Robert E. Hornberger, Esq. & Christine M. Verbitsky, Esq.

Schedule your complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our experienced attorneys today. When you call, you’ll speak to our friendly Client Services Director, who will be able to answer your general questions and set up your appointment with an attorney who specializes in your unique case.

At your meeting, your attorney will describe the many options available and determine together which is the right solution for you. By the end of this meeting we’ll all understand how we can best help you to move forward.

No Cost or Obligation

There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. It is simply an opportunity for us to get to know each other, answer your questions and learn if Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is right the right law firm for you.

* indicates required

- - ###-###-####

Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Google Review of divorce longisland
Darlene Iglio
Darlene Iglio
15:27 30 Jul 22
Robert has been my attorney for 14+ years. Through the years he has taken every call, and responded to every email, even when we were not dealing with an active court matter. Most recently, he, and his amazing team, did everything to see me through a lengthy and draining child support modification. His experience with Divorce, and Family Court, matters makes him extremely knowledgeable; therefore, if he doesn’t feel you can benefit from an action, he will advise you as much. He is not in this business to charge you fees just for the sake of making money. He will listen to you, take your feelings into consideration, and then take the time to explain how the Law works. The Courts do not care about your feelings but he, and his entire firm, genuinely do care about you AND work to obtain the best possible outcome! All the while, truly understanding these matters are very difficult to go through emotionally AND the financial impact they have on you. I highly recommend Robert and his firm… you will not be disappointed.
86 Godhand
86 Godhand
00:41 30 Jul 22
Mr Hornberger is an absolute amazing lawyer. He helped me on every level weather it be answering emails extremely fast, always called me back right aways and never acted frustrated towards me and my thousand questions. Mr Hornberger is extremely personable, caring and smart. I would highly highly recommend him to anyone especially someone like me who has no idea what court is going to be like. Again a great person and an even better lawyer

Successful Divorce Strategies Free eBook
divorce questions answered
Child Support & Spousal Maintenance Tools
Spousal Maintenance Calculator
Child Support Calculator
Darlene Iglio
Darlene Iglio
15:27 30 Jul 22
Robert has been my attorney for 14+ years. Through the years he has taken every call, and responded to every email,... even when we were not dealing with an active court matter. Most recently, he, and his amazing team, did everything to see me through a lengthy and draining child support modification. His experience with Divorce, and Family Court, matters makes him extremely knowledgeable; therefore, if he doesn’t feel you can benefit from an action, he will advise you as much. He is not in this business to charge you fees just for the sake of making money. He will listen to you, take your feelings into consideration, and then take the time to explain how the Law works. The Courts do not care about your feelings but he, and his entire firm, genuinely do care about you AND work to obtain the best possible outcome! All the while, truly understanding these matters are very difficult to go through emotionally AND the financial impact they have on you. I highly recommend Robert and his firm… you will not be disappointed.read more
86 Godhand
86 Godhand
00:41 30 Jul 22
Mr Hornberger is an absolute amazing lawyer. He helped me on every level weather it be answering emails extremely fast,... always called me back right aways and never acted frustrated towards me and my thousand questions. Mr Hornberger is extremely personable, caring and smart. I would highly highly recommend him to anyone especially someone like me who has no idea what court is going to be like. Again a great person and an even better lawyerread more
Jenny Allen
Jenny Allen
13:26 18 Jun 22
Mr. Hornberger was so helpful to me in a recent consultation. He gave me his time generously, listened patiently,... offered clear counsel, and said I didn't actually need further legal services in a particular matter, which I really appreciated.read more
Elizabeth Martin
Elizabeth Martin
21:06 25 Jan 22
The team at Hornberger Verbitsky made me feel at ease after I retained them after a 3 year contested divorce process. I... like their approach with how they educate you on ways to get the best outcome in your divorce. Mr. Hornberger made me feel heard and was compassionate to my case while also being aggressive in the courtroom to help me get the most positive outcome. He prevented my case from having to go to trial and he closed the deal in my long drawn out emotional divorce. I was happy that I retained him and would recommend him to anyone that is going through a high conflict divorce.read more
rrezarta lekaj
rrezarta lekaj
20:47 24 Nov 21
Christine is truly the best there is. She is beyond professional, personable, genuine, extremely trusting, and has made... such a stressful and emotional time for my family and I easier to get through. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your guidance, your support, and being there every step of the way. I would highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to anyone that is in need for legal advice - you will be in the best hands.read more
Janine Martello D'onofrio
Janine Martello D'onofrio
21:00 02 Oct 21
Rob and Christine are the very best out there!I can not say enough about them. They both have helped me so much in... different matters throughout the last several years . They have gone over and beyond!I highly recommend this law firm !read more
Tara Tocci
Tara Tocci
20:59 17 Sep 21
I called to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss a mediated divorce, the office was fantastic with getting... me a prompt appointment. When going in all my questions were asked and I left feeling comfortable in my decision to move forward in using the Hornberger/Verbitsky office. Despite a pandemic going on the office still worked diligently to get my papers filed and my divorce complete in a timely manner. Highly recommend!read more
cristina romero
cristina romero
20:17 17 Sep 21
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C were phenomenal in every way. Robert was very genuine, patient and professional. Walking in,... I had no idea what to expect but he went above and beyond to explain the entire process thoroughly. He guided and informed me of my rights. Patty was amazing, she answered every question I had no matter how many times I called, she was very understanding. I highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Even if its just for questions on how to navigate this process.read more
Kerri
Kerri
16:57 17 Sep 21
Rob and his team are by far one of the greatest! Patty is amazing and will make sure all of your questions are... addressed and responded to. Rob and his team made a very tough time in my life as simple as possible. Rob is extremely knowledgeable and very empathetic. Patty was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend this firm to anyone that needs a great divorce attorney. Thank you for all of your help!read more
Angela Thearle
Angela Thearle
00:21 07 Aug 21
Hornberger law was the best choice I made when I needed to go to family court with my ex for custody of my children.... They were there at any time when I neeeded them. Going through a custody battle can be a huge emotional rollercoaster and very painful. They helped me through it and made it less painful and heartbreaking. And I got the outcome plus more than I expectedread more
Tammy Granville
Tammy Granville
11:49 04 Jul 21
Everyone was very professional. Never had to call to get an update on my case. Someone always updated me on a regular... basis.read more
LilMissPerfct Dessie
LilMissPerfct Dessie
06:46 11 Feb 21
I am a graduate of Norland English nanny college. I thank God every day that Mr. Robert Hornberger protected my clients... in the legal ways i could not. Children are a blessing not a blender to be fought over during some silly spat!read more
Anastasia R
Anastasia R
22:45 17 Dec 20
I went to see Rob for a modification for my child custody agreement to relocate, I can honestly say that working with... Rob and Christine has been the best experience. I cannot recommend them enough I only wish I had seen them sooner. They are prompt with communication, and they are honest which I appreciate so much. They do not give you fake promises and they do their best to fight for what you want which they do amazingly well! You can tell they are passionate about what they do and care about their clients. A very important aspect of lawyer client relationship for me is an open line of communication, the anxiety of the unknown always gets the best of us. The fact they were always available whether it be phone call or email to answer any question was extremely comforting and exactly what I needed. I am not well versed with laws and regulation so knowing I had Rob and his partners there when I was unsure or conflicted was extremely needed and greatly appreciated.When it comes to family court it's never easy but having Rob and his partner by my side I felt extremely comfortable and he helped me have realistic expectations. Please TRUST HIM!! If you're looking for a lawyer (at least for my end from child custody/Family Court) don't look any further you will not be disappointed. I hope to never have to use them again but in the event I have to, they are going to be my forever first call.read more
A Google User
A Google User
15:42 16 Sep 20
I hired Robert to handle a child custody and child support matter. He was prompt and professional and was able to... achieve a result that 3 prior attorneys could not. He and his staff made a stressful situation easy. I highly recommend his office.read more
Ann Masten
Ann Masten
17:48 12 May 20
I am a paralegal in an unrelated field of law. I phoned Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today intending to refer a client... to their office. Instead (and despite that we are the midst of the present crisis), Mr. Hornberger himself graciously accommodated my questions over the telephone, and was generous with his time and adroit in his response, saving our client a small fortune in unnecessary legal fees. I have not had any similar experience, in which counsel was so generous with his expertise, in 22+ years of interacting with prominent, local attorneys, and the client is overjoyed. Based on this experience, I would now whole -heartedly recommend this firm as trusted professionals to any client requiring a firm expert in family law and related legal issues.read more
Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when... you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.read more
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working... with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.read more
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my... consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!read more
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly
Ashley Hubner
Ashley Hubner
20:30 14 Feb 20
Navigating my divorce was a challenging experience to say the least, but I was supported and guided every step of the... way by my attorney, Robert. With the daunting task of hiring a divorce lawyer, I knew I would need someone with the right combination of knowledge, compassion and integrity. Robert has a strong background in family law, sincere character and direct communication to be superior to the others. He and his staff were professional and caring. I always felt I was in good hands. I highly recommend the Law Offices Hornberger and Verbitsky for the legal expertise, compassion and understanding of the many complex facets associated with divorce.read more
Thomas Livingston
Thomas Livingston
21:31 26 Jan 20
Robert and Christine are the epitome of professionalism. They helped us with the purchase of our new home. They were... efficient, dedicated, and focused on making our closing as seamless as possible.read more
Sheila Vasata
Sheila Vasata
23:35 14 Jan 20
Robert Hornberger has been a friend of mine and my family for years. He has helped us all in ways that are too... numerable to mention. I went through a divorce that I don’t think I could’ve done if I didn’t have Robert by my side. He is vivacious, motivated, knowledgeable, and has an extreme desire to succeed and excel...and he does! He goes over and above for all of his clientele. I would recommend his law firm to anybody who is looking for a Great Lawyer with integrity!read more
Next Reviews
Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C. respects your right to privacy. We will never sell your information to any third party. Follow this link to read our full privacy policy.