Marital status has an impact on a father’s rights, but not to the degree that many men assume. Unmarried fathers often worry that their relationships with their children are completely dependent on their relationship with the child’s mother. They think she can deny them access to their children and has total control over their upbringing.
A misunderstanding of New York family law and misinformation spread from person to person can lead to people having an unnecessarily negative perception of their options. Perhaps the couple broke up in a painful manner, leading to lingering resentment. Maybe the parents never had a formal relationship with one another.
There are many reasons why the mother of a child might not want to acknowledge the father. Can a mother simply refuse to do so and deny him his parental rights?
New York empowers fathers to play an active role
The best-case scenario for an unmarried father is one in which the mother of his child acknowledges him voluntarily. The two could sign documents at the hospital after the birth of the child to add his name to the birth certificate. They could also execute paperwork and submit it to the state to add his name to the birth certificate later.
However, the father still has options even if the mother of his child won’t agree to sign the paperwork with him. Both fathers and mothers have the right to request paternity proceedings in New York. They can file paperwork with the courts seeking to establish the paternity of a child. The courts can order genetic testing to resolve a paternity conflict.
Mothers generally cannot decline to present a child for paternity testing and have to abide by the determination of the courts in a paternity case. If the testing affirms a man’s claim that he is the father of the child, the state can acknowledge his paternity and have his name added to the birth certificate. He can then pursue all of the rights and responsibilities that come with parentage in New York. He can request visitation or shared custody to develop or maintain a relationship with his child. As such, learning about one’s rights as a father could help men preserve their relationships with their children.