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Obama Administration Refuses to Defend the Defense of Marriage Act

same sex marriagesIn 1996, a Federal Statute was passed by Congress that prevented federal recognition of same sex marriages. President Obama has recently directed the Justice Department to stop taking legal action to defend this law in court.

The Obama Administration’s decision was presented to members of Congress by a letter written by Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The letter stated, “the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation” should be subjected to tests that have, in the past, had the impact of blocking unfair discrimination. Attorney General Holder specifically stated that “the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.”

The Obama administration’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act has been heavily criticized by conservatives in Congress. While conservatives are very unhappy about the Obama administrations position, gay right activist are overjoyed.

Anthony D. Romero, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, upon hearing of the Obama’s administrations position on the Defense Marriage Act, stated “this is a great step by the Obama administration and a tipping point for the gay rights movement that will have ripple effects in contexts beyond the Defense of Marriage Act.”

He further stated, “it will reach into issues of employment discrimination, family recognition and full equality rights for lesbian and gay people.”

Same Sex Marriage

There are approximately a dozen states in the United States that allow members of the same sex to be married. New York is not one of these states. However, New York State will recognize same sex marriages if those marriages were legal in the state that they took place. New York takes this action under the theory of comity of laws.

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Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

Gay men and women are now fighting to obtain greater rights. In New York State, women received equal rights in 1989. When women received equal rights, fathers also benefitted by the matrimonial and family laws in the State of New York becoming gender neutral. It was thought at that time that fathers’ custody and visitation rights would be greatly enhanced. Although in theory this took place, fathers in the Family Courts are not treated equally in New York State.

Our office represents fathers regarding divorce proceedings, child custody, child visitation matters, child support issues, spousal maintenance and with regard to issues involving allegations of child abuse and child neglect. When fathers are thrown out of their homes due to domestic violence allegations, we represent them in contesting the orders of protection that are taken out against them.

In situations where the parties are amicable, we negotiate separation agreements on behalf of our clients. We also assist fathers with regard to the no-fault divorce law recently passed in the State of New York. Feel free to call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 and 718-350-2802.

Paternity by Estoppel: Can This Really Happen?

support-150x150Paternity by Estoppel is a legal doctrine that is now accepted by the New York State Court of Appeals.  This doctrine holds that a man can be required to pay child support for a child if it is proven beyond any doubt that he is NOT the biological father of this child.

In the matter of Shondel v. Mark D., the New York State Court of Appeals held as follows:

“In this child support proceeding, we hold that a man who has mistakenly represented himself as a child’s father may be estopped from denying paternity, and made to pay child support, when the child justifiably relied on the man’s representation of paternity, to the child’s detriment.  We reached this conclusion based on the best interest of the child as set forth by the legislature.”

In the aforementioned case, the father of the child had seen the child approximately four times during the child’s life.  However, he had held himself out to be the child’s father.  He had provided the child with financial support.  He had also signed an affidavit authorizing the child to use his name.

The New York State of Appeals rendered a decision that this man’s actions caused the child to justifiably rely on these representations that he was the child’s father.  The court further reasoned that it was now in the child’s best interest to prevent the father from denying the paternity, even though the DNA proved beyond question that this man was not the child’s father. Therefore, this man was forced to continue to pay child support for a child that was not his.

Paternity by Estoppel

This case and subsequent cases should be a warning to all men.  If you are not absolutely certain you are the father of a child, you should demand a DNA paternity test.  You should not sign an acknowledgment of paternity unless you are absolutely sure you are the father of the child.

If you undertake to provide support for a child, visit with a child or hold yourself out as being the father of a child, should you later find that you are not the biological father of the child, you will be estopped (prevented) from making this argument in court.

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Mens’ Rights/Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

Men need advocates in court.  Both fathers and men who find themselves in the Family Court and/or the Supreme Court sometimes run into a hornets’ nest.  The system, in many situations, favors mothers and women.

The Fathers’ Rights defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo litigate issues involving paternity, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), visitation rights, relocation issues, as well as Orders of Protection and child abuse and child neglect allegations.   We handle all aspects of representing fathers concerning their rights and responsibilities in divorces, equitable distribution of their assets and issues involving parental alienation.  We negotiate separation agreements and we try to amicably resolve our cases whenever it is possible.  Feel free to call us at 1-800-344-6431; 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

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