When a child is born to unmarried parents in New Jersey, it is important to establish the child's legal relationship with their father. This connection - called paternity or legal parenthood - is an essential first step in obtaining many legal rights on the child's behalf.
If you are the parent of a child born outside of a marital union, an experienced Monmouth County paternity lawyer can help you establish the child's paternity. Consult with a Monmouth County family attorney to help legally navigate your claim.New Jersey Paternity Laws
Establishing paternity in New Jersey sometimes depends on whether or not the mother and purported father both agree that he fathered the child. When a father agrees to establish paternity, the process can be as simple as filing a voluntary acknowledgment form with the court, signed by both parents.
In many cases, the acknowledgment document can be signed in the hospital at the same time as the birth certificate.Evidence of Paternity
When a purported father denies that he fathered the child, genetic testing may be necessary for both mother and father.
If the purported father fails to show up or refuses to comply with the court-ordered genetic testing, an experienced Monmouth County paternity attorney can still pursue paternity by other means, including introducing evidence of informal or unofficial acknowledgment of paternity.
Courts have considered a number of different forms of evidence of paternity, including text messages and emails, photographs and call logs, letters and receipts, and whether the purported father signed the birth certificate.
In some instances, the courts may actually consider a refusal to submit to a DNA test as evidence of fatherhood.Common Benefits of Establishing Legal Paternity
Establishing paternity can be a necessary legal precursor to obtaining numerous benefits for a child, including, but not limited to:
Once paternity is established, both parents are treated by the New Jersey courts in the same way they would be if they were divorcing and deciding issues of child support and parenting time. These processes can be best understood by the use of a Monmouth County paternity attorney.Filing a Case
Paternity claims are typically brought by mothers seeking financial support from their child's father, and fathers seeking to obtain custody and visitation rights.
Other people can bring paternity cases too, including the child themselves, the child's guardian or legal representative, or the state or county assistance agencies as a step in the process of obtaining welfare or other benefits.
Even a man who believes he has fathered a child with a woman who is or was married to someone else can file a paternity case.
In some cases, adoptive parents may need to establish the child's paternity before parental rights can be terminated and the child made free for legal adoption. Pregnant women in New Jersey may also file paternity cases, but the ultimate decision cannot be made until after the child's birth. Any such nuances can be explained with the assistance of a New Jersey paternity lawyer.Contact an Attorney
Whether you are a mother seeking a child support order, or a father wanting access to his children, an experienced paternity attorney in Monmouth County can help you move forward with establishing the rights and responsibilities of both parents.