Paternity in Divorce and Child Custody Disputes
It is not uncommon for the issue of paternity to arise during a divorce or child custody dispute, and either the mother or the putative father may raise the issue. On the one hand, a child’s legal father may have a legal right to custody and visitation. Conversely, a child’s legal father will also most likely be required to support the child financially. The issue of paternity can therefore have lasting impacts for both of the parents and the child. Whether raised in the context of a divorce or in a stand-alone proceeding, Union attorney John B. D’Alessandro provides advice and representation to individuals claiming or challenging paternity in Union, Middlesex or Essex County family courts.
New Jersey Paternity Law
If the couple are married when the child is born, then the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father under New Jersey law. This presumption could be challenged and overcome by evidence to the contrary, such as genetic testing or other proof.
If the couple are unmarried when the child is born, then paternity must be established through some legal process. If the father voluntary acknowledges his paternity, he can make this voluntary acknowledgement official by signing a Certificate of Parentage. This certificate can be signed at the hospital after the child is born, and hospital staff will likely provide the form and encourage the couple to complete the certificate before leaving the hospital. The Certificate can also be completed at a later date through the state or county registrar or at a local welfare office.
When Paternity is Challenged
When a child’s parentage is disputed, the matter must be resolved in a judicial proceeding. Genetic testing is often involved, and a result of 95% in favor of paternity creates a legal presumption of parentage. Either parent can request the genetic testing, or it may be required by the county or court-ordered in a legal proceeding. Other evidence may also be presented to challenge or defend the paternity designation. As in a divorce, child custody dispute or any family law legal proceeding, the parties are encouraged to have legal representation to protect their rights and have the best chance of success in this process.
Help with Paternity Matters in Union
Beyond the issues of child custody and child support, establishing paternity can be important to the child throughout life for a variety of reasons, including the ability to inherit from the parent, the right to receive government benefits through the parent such as social security or veteran’s benefits, or the ability to sue for a wrongful death of the parent. Knowing one’s parentage and medical history can also be important for the child’s own health and future marital plans. If you are seeking to establish or challenge paternity in Essex, Middlesex or Union counties, the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro can help. Call our offices in Union for assistance.