Obtaining Custody for Children Born to Unmarried Fathers

father's rights lawyer in New YorkPaternity Proceeding

In the State of New York, a father can sign an acknowledgment of paternity at the time a child is born. The acknowledgment of paternity specifically states that I am the father of this child. If an acknowledgment of paternity isn’t executed by the father at the time of the child’s birth, the first step in obtaining visitation rights or custody is to file a paternity proceeding.

The Paternity Proceeding

The paternity proceeding is fast and simple if the mother simply says, yes he is the father. However, if the mother disputes the fact he is the father or there is a question in her mind as to who the father is, the court in New York will order DNA testing to ascertain whether this man is actually the father of the child.

Custody Petitions and Visitation Petitions

Once paternity is established, the next step is to file an application for custody or in the alternative for visitation with the child. These petitions are filed in the Family Court in the county where the child is located. This petition can ask for sole custody, joint custody, or just simply for visitation. After the petition is filed, the court will make arrangements to serve the child’s mother. The two of you will then have to appear in court on the return date of the petition.

Establishing That You Are The Superior Custodial Parent

If you seek custody of your child, you must show it is in the child’s best interest you be named the residential custodial parent. In addition, you can show why the mother should not have custody of her child. Issues the mother has with drug abuse, child abuse, child neglect, prior history of drug abuse, criminal records, and associating with inappropriate and/or violent individuals can be the basis for your asking for custody of your child.

Visitation With Your Child

If you simply seek visitation with your child, and you have no negative history which would prevent you from having visitation rights, the usual visitation regimen given by the Family Courts in New York is every other holiday, every other weekend, and one dinner during the week. Also, fathers are given access to the child on Father’s Day and the child’s birthday. In addition, the child should be entitled to telephone and Skype contact with the father on a regular basis.


Children have two parents. They should have relationships with both parents. This helps them grow up to be well meaning, well balanced adults.father's rights advocate on Long Island

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 45 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.