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The Role of Paternity in New Jersey Child Support Cases

Father interacting playing outdoors with his children giving high five. Parenting and fatherhood concept.

Family law matters can be complex, particularly in situations that involve more than one issue wrapped up into a single proceeding. One such example is the role of paternity in child support cases in New Jersey. Child support is a financial obligation imposed on both parents, but if a child’s parentage hasn’t first been legally established, it poses a roadblock in the way of getting an enforceable order of child support between unmarried parents. Below we take a look at the legal process of establishing paternity in New Jersey and its impact on child support obligations. If you need help with child support, custody, paternity or other related matters in Union, Essex, or Middlesex County, call on the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable and experienced Union family law attorney.

Understanding Paternity in New Jersey

Paternity refers to the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child. Establishing paternity is essential for various reasons, including securing child support, inheritance rights, and access to medical history. In New Jersey, paternity can be established in several ways:

  1. Presumption of Paternity: If a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days of its termination, the husband is presumed to be the father.

  2. Voluntary Acknowledgment: Both parents can sign a Certificate of Parentage, voluntarily acknowledging paternity. This can be done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or later at a local registrar or county welfare agency.

  3. Court Order: If paternity is disputed, either parent can file a paternity action in court. The court may order genetic (DNA) testing to determine the child’s biological father.

These days, DNA testing plays a crucial role in establishing paternity in contested cases. The process is simple, non-invasive, and highly accurate. A swab is taken from the inside cheek of the alleged father and the child, and the samples are compared to determine if there is a genetic match. If the DNA test confirms a match, the court will issue an order of paternity, legally recognizing the man as the child’s father. It’s important to understand that even a DNA match (95% or more) only creates a presumption of paternity; it isn’t always conclusive, and the presumption of paternity can still be challenged or rebutted with other persuasive evidence.

Impact on Child Support Obligations

Once paternity is established, the father becomes legally obligated to support the child financially. Child support in New Jersey is determined based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which consider both parents’ incomes, the child’s needs, and other factors. The non-custodial parent, typically the father in paternity cases, will be required to make regular child support payments to the custodial parent.

Failure to pay child support can have serious legal consequences, including wage garnishment, loss of driver’s and professional licenses, and even imprisonment. It’s important to note that the obligation to pay child support is independent of the father’s relationship with the child. Even if the father has no contact or visitation rights, he is still required to provide financial support.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Establishing paternity not only imposes financial obligations on the father but also grants him legal rights. These rights may include:

  • The right to seek custody or visitation.
  • The right to be involved in important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and health.
  • The right of the child to inheritance, health insurance, and other legal benefits that flow from the parent-child relationship.

It’s important for fathers to understand that with these rights come responsibilities. Fathers are expected to provide emotional and financial support to their children and to act in their best interests.

Contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Allesandro for Help With Paternity and Child Support in Union, New Jersey

The role of paternity in New Jersey child support cases is crucial in ensuring that children receive the financial support they need from both parents. Establishing paternity is the first step in determining a father’s legal obligations and rights. If you are involved in a paternity or child support matter, it’s essential to seek legal guidance. The Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro in Union, New Jersey, are experienced in handling family law cases and can provide the support and representation you need. Contact us today for a consultation at 908-964-0102.

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