In the state of New York, the courts definition of “legal parent” is not always necessarily based on biology.
For instance, if the mother was married at the time the child was either born or conceived, then that husband is considered to be the legal father of the child. Note that he does not have to be the biological father, and likewise, an unwed, biological father is not considered the child’s legal parent unless the father has signed what is known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity.
For fathers that didn’t know of the pregnancy or the child, sometimes there can be major hurdles if attempting to adopt the child.
The biological father must start to establish a significant parental role in the child’s life, which can include paying for birth expenses or child support expenses. Like most other custody cases, the fitness of the father to parent will be something that the judge will take into consideration when determining the custody dispute.
Conversely, fathers who do not provide support during and after pregnancy, who don’t show the ability to even provide the support, or those who have developed drug and/or alcohol problems are more likely to be denied the right to battle for the child in the event that they are placed in the care of either the biological mother or adopting parents.
An unmarried father is sometimes limited in how often they have the chance to be a significant parental figure in the child’s life, so it is important to form a parental relationship with the child. Get legal recognition that you are the child’s father, and the right to have a say in parental decisions.