If you match the following descriptors, this information is for you:
- You are the father of a child or children;
- You are not married to the child’s mother;
- You are looking to obtain a custody agreement related to your child;
- You live in the state of New York
We understand that the process to obtain custody rights as a father can be emotional, frustrating, and confusing. We hope to provide you with all the information you need to understand the process and prepare for the battle. As family law attorneys in New York, we understand the frustration many fathers face and are zealous about helping fathers obtain the custodial rights they deserve.
The first step in your custody journey is to establish the paternity of your child or children. Under New York law, there are two ways for an unmarried parent to establish paternity:
- By signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, this is a form voluntarily signed by both yourself and the mother of your child(ren). This form is typically signed shortly after your child is born but can be signed at a later date.
- Filing a court petition to have the court determine paternity. If the court is utilized to determine paternity, it will order genetic testing be conducted to provide a definitive biological father match. Once the genetic testing results are acquired and you are determined to be the biological father, the court will issue an order that establishes that you are the legal father of your child.
Once paternity has been established, you have the right to custody or visitation. In order to create a legal plan for the custody of your child, you will need to file a petition with the court for joint custody, visitation rights, or full custody, if the mother is unfit.
After filing for custody, a legal agreement can be reached by you and the child’s mother submitting a proposed schedule or by having the court determine what is best for the child. When the court is determining the best custody arrangement for your child, it will use the “best interest of the child” standard. The use of this standard requires the judge to make a ruling that supports the best interest of the child, regardless of the requests of either parent.
If joint custody is not an option, the court will evaluate both parents and determine which parent is the best primary caregiver. In the state of New York, a presumption is not given to either the mother or father, both parents are evaluated equally, and a determination is made based upon these factors:
- the relationship between the child and each parent;
- the overall health of each parent;
- each parent’s ability to care for the child;
- the financial stability of each parent;
- history of domestic or substance abuse;
- the ability for each parent to provide a stable home; and
- the work schedule and lifestyle of each parent
We know how overwhelming and intimidating this process can be and fight daily for our clients to obtain the custody rights they deserve. If you are facing this process or have questions about your custodial rights as a father, it’s time to contact us at 917-525-4321 to set up a consultation with our New York attorneys.