Paternity Disputes

Paternity Disputes

Question: When is a paternity case filed

Answer: A paternity case is filed when a couple who never got married had child(ren) and their relationship ends

Question: What are some of the characteristics of never married parents in paternity cases

Answer: Never married parents in paternity cases often have considerable negative feelings toward each other.  Mothers are resentful because they feel the fathers abandoned them prior to giving birth or immediately after giving birth.  In any event, the fathers never made long term commitments to them.  Fathers are overwhelmed by the stresses of having to deal with their former partners when they now have new partners, and fathers feel burdened by the substantial financial obligations that they will have until their children attain age 23. Often, former partners wish they had never gotten together.  It is common for former partners to have never lived together or to have lived together for only a short period of time relative to their children’s ages. 

Question: What are the legal issues in paternity cases that are addressed in paternity judgments/paternity orders

Answer: The legal issues in paternity cases that are addressed in paternity judgments/paternity orders are as follows:

  • Establishment of paternity through blood testing that disestablishes paternity if someone is not the father
  • Legitimization of child by inserting father’s name on child's birth certificate (if father's name is not already on birth certificate)
  • Change of child’s last name to father's last name – Note: In the alternative, child can have mother’s last name or child can have hyphenated last name consisting of both parents’ names if both parents agree or if the Court orders it
  • Physical custody and visitation ("timesharing")
  • Legal custody ("decision making")
  • Payment of child support
  • Maintenance of health insurance and life insurance for child
  • Payment of child's expenses, such as:
      • Uncovered/out of pocket health care expenses
      • Extracurricular activities expenses
      • Private education expenses
      • College expenses 
  • Payment of outstanding/unpaid pregnancy and birth related expenses
  • Reimbursement of child’s expenses incurred from after parents ended their relationship/separated until paternity case was filed
  • Claiming of child as dependent on federal and state income tax returns

Question: Can paternity cases be initiated only by family law attorneys

Answer: Paternity cases can be initiated by family law attorneys and by the Corporation Counsel (city attorney) office.  When mothers are on welfare then the Corporation Counsel files paternity cases so that the responsible parties/fathers can be financially responsible for their own children, instead of the government (ultimately taxpayers) being financially responsible for other people’s children.

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