Determining the paternity of a child has potentially long-lasting consequences from child support and custody to inheritance rights. Parents are legally responsible for their children regardless of the parents’ marriage situation, and successfully establishing or refuting paternity in the courts affects not only the rights and obligations of each parent but of the child as well. Here is a short guide to legally determining paternity in New Jersey.
For married couples, both the mother and the father fill out and sign the baby’s birth certificate, which equates to a legal acknowledgment of paternity. This can be done at the hospital before the mother and child are discharged. For unmarried couples, though, the process is different. Only the mother can sign the birth certificate, at first. The father can then acknowledge paternity by filling out and signing a separate form called a Certificate of Parentage. After that is complete, the father’s name can be formally added to the birth certificate. The father does not need to be present at the birth to do this, although there may be a filing fee if the certificate is filled out later. The bottom line is that acknowledging paternity on the birth certificate is the easiest way of legally establishing paternity.
Determining Paternity Through DNA
If a mother or potential father (or both) is unsure of the child’s parentage, the next step is to have a DNA test done. A sample from both the child and the potential father will be tested in a lab to positively or negatively affirm if the man is the baby’s biological father. Many labs in New Jersey offer the legally necessary test to determine paternity, and a quick internet search can point you in the right direction. It is important to confirm that the test results will be accepted by the New Jersey family court as admissible evidence, and most labs in the state can tell you which test to get. DNA testing may also be done through the court system.
Disputes over a child’s parentage are common legal battles that have far-reaching consequences. Even if a man refuses to sign an acknowledgment of paternity it may not relieve him of his responsibilities. The child’s mother can file a lawsuit to establish paternity through other means, which then makes the man financially responsible for his child. If you sign the paperwork believing you are the father, but later suspect the child is someone else’s, you should seek an attorney’s help to legally refute the acknowledgment of paternity.
Contact A New Jersey Family Law Attorney About Your Paternity Case Today!
If you are dealing with paternity and child support issues, you should not face them alone. You need an experienced family law attorney on your side to fight for your rights every step of the way. We understand how challenging these situations can be, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Daniel K. Newman has over 30 years of helping clients in family court and practices in Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, Cumberland, and Salem Counties. Call us at (856) 309-9007 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. Our office is located at 1202 Laurel Oak Rd., Suite 207 in Voorhees Township, NJ 08043.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.