In recent years, debates have heated up over the differences between mothers and fathers and their rights (or lack of) as parents. For men, the challenges are different than those of mothers. There exists the classic argument that an unplanned pregnancy means a woman has the right to decide if she wants to become a mother and if she does not, she can seek an abortion, even if her partner wants the child. In other words, voluntary motherhood is well-established while voluntary fatherhood is anything but voluntary. If the woman decides to keep the baby and her partner wants no part of becoming a father, the woman can sue for child support, regardless of how the man feels about it. If the man wishes to keep the baby and the woman has no interest in becoming a mother, the man has no legal recourse.
Father’s Rights in Long Island
And what happens if the father is on the birth certificate or has acknowledged paternity? Can he assert his rights? In Long Island, New York, there are two ways to establish legal paternity. The first one requires a petition to be completed and filed with the family court. The second way is a legal document, signed by both parents and recorded with the birth certificate.
A “putative father” is a term used in New York that describes a man’s claims that he is the father, despite not being married to the baby’s mother when that baby is born. A putative father has not yet been legally established as the child’s father by a New York court.
As family lawyers, our goal is to protect our clients’ rights. We have often seen agreements made between two agreeable adults, both of whom wish nothing but what’s right for their child. It’s rare that it stays that way and even when it does, circumstances change over the years. One parent may wish to relocate to another state and wants to ensure he is in compliance with any custody agreement. Other times, the parent who is considering the move is the one who has primary custody, which can cause the other parent worry over how his relationship will continue with his child.
As you can see, the potential scenarios are many. When it comes to our children and their well-being, the best advice is to always err on the side of caution. We encourage our clients to assume nothing and for the sake of their relationships with their children, the legal route is always the best route.