Heidi E. Opinsky

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Fathers’ Rights & New York Child Support Laws

Going through the process of child custody and support negotiations as a single-father-to-be can be stressful and confusing. Here’s what you should know about fathers’ rights and how they are impacted by New York child support laws. 

Both Mothers and Fathers Have Equal Rights to Their Children Under New York Child Support Laws 

In the past, many U.S. states, including New York, tended to favor mothers when it came to child custody and support matters. Essentially, custody of the minor children in a divorce or separation would default to the mother and the father would be ordered to pay child support. 

Now, mothers and fathers have equal rights to their children and either parent can be the primary physical custodian of a child, depending on what the court considers is in the child’s best interests. More fathers are being awarded full custody and support than ever before in New York and across the country. 

Why Fathers Should Have a Relationship With Their Child, If Possible 

Numerous studies have indicated that a child’s developmental and emotional wellbeing thrives best when the child has a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. This is regardless of whether or not the child’s parents are married, together, divorced, or separated. 

The role that fathers play in the development of their child’s self-esteem and mental health shouldn’t be underestimated; children with present fathers are not as likely to have abnormal social and emotional behaviors. They’re also less likely to engage in risky behavior in their teens. 

Establishing Legal Paternity in New York

New York state child support guidelines require that paternity be legally established in some cases. If two unmarried parents are separating, paternity must be proven in order for the father of the child to assert his parental rights. 

If a child’s mother wishes to pursue child support from the father of a child to whom she was not married, typically, paternity testing must be done. However, this requirement is generally waived when two parents are married and are getting divorced.  

A Father’s Right to Custody & Visitation With His Child 

Once paternity has been legally recognized, a father has the inherent right to custody and visitation with his child. Either both parents must agree on custody and visitation arrangements, or they must go to court and allow a judge to make those decisions based on the best interests of the child. 

However, a New York family court generally won’t remove the parental rights of a child’s father unless it can be demonstrated that the father is a danger to the child, e.g. domestic violence or child abuse situations. 

If a father pursues his parental rights, a mother cannot withold the child from him. She must present a compelling case to the court as to why the father should not be involved in the child’s life if she wishes to remove his right to custody and visitation with his biological child. 

Most courts in New York will only do this in extreme cases of family violence or where it’s clear that the father’s presence in the child’s life is doing significantly more harm than good or the father is otherwise an unfit parent.    

A Father’s Right to Receive Child Support 

The primary custodian of a child has the right to receive child support in New York, whether that person is the mother or the father of the child. The state uses a standard formula to determine how much child support an individual can afford and should pay given their assets and earnings. 

If a father has full custody of a child, or the child spends more than half their time with their father, he will likely be the one to receive support from the child’s mother. She will likely be ordered to pay an amount calculated by the court unless and until circumstances change or the child reaches the age of 21.   

Getting Help From a Lawyer Well-Versed in New York Child Support Laws 

If you’re going through the process of getting a divorce or separating from your partner and you have children together, it’s important that you have someone in your corner who can advocate for your family’s best interests. 

An experienced divorce lawyer in Manhattan is more than just a child support calculator in NY. Not only can they help you better understand how much support you owe or should be paid, they can also assist you with related family legal matters, like visitation and property division if you’re getting a divorce. 

Reach out to veteran New York child support lawyer Heidi E. Opinsky today for a consultation to discuss your case by dialing 203-653-3542.