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What you should know about paternity

If you are the father of a child, it is essential to establish your legal paternal rights. Find out what you must know about paternity in New Jersey.

Any father who was not married to the mother of his child at the time of birth should be aware of paternity rights. Not being married to the mother places a father at risk of not having all his rights to the child. The following covers some common questions and answers on the subject of paternity and how it is established in New Jersey.

How is paternity established?

According to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, parents who are not married can voluntarily sign a Certificate of Parentage that states the paternity of the child. This is a free service if it is done before leaving the hospital, but it is also an available option at a later date. This document becomes legal and binding after 60 days. If the parents are married at the time of birth, then the father's paternity is automatically established.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Having both parents in a child's life is emotional beneficial as both parents and the child can establish emotional bonds. In addition, it ensures the child receives proper financial support, including access to any benefits to which the father is entitled, such as Social Security. It also allows parents to share responsibilities and care of the child, including visitation and custody rights.

Is a DNA test required to establish paternity?

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, if there is any objection to paternity, then yes, the court may get involved and require a DNA test. The court then looks at the results to ensure there is a high probability of paternity for the father in question and will then rule on the legal paternity of the child.

Does New Jersey have a paternity registry?

A paternity registry allows a man to put his name into a database as the father of a child. This provides some legal rights, such as in a case where that child's mother puts him or her up for adoption. New Jersey does not have a formal registry, but there are forms a father may file to acknowledge paternity and establish some rights to be informed about certain situations involving the child.

If you are a father who needs to establish paternity, it may help to get assistance from an attorney knowledgeable about family law, such as Heymann & Fletcher. This is especially true if the mother is objecting to the paternity claim or if it is not possible to submit the voluntary paternity form.