Mothers and fathers share equal parenting rights in New Jersey. However, where biological mothers generally have no issues proving that they are the legal mother of their child, fathers may have to take the additional step of proving paternity. Legal paternity entitles the father to child custody and parenting time, as well as opens up the possibility of being responsible for child support payments. Today, our divorce and family law attorneys will discuss the different methods parents and children may use to legally establish paternity.
How to Establish Legal Paternity in Bergen County, NJ
Your Bergen County paternity and parents’ rights attorneys may use one of a handful of methods in order to legally establish paternity. In many cases, formal legal action is not required, but litigation free options are generally only available when parents are in agreement about the father of the child. In New Jersey, any of the following situations and/or actions can lead to legal paternity:
When the parents are married. For married parents, the husband is presumed to be the father of any children born during the marriage. Additionally, if a child is born after a divorce has been finalized or the husband is killed, the husband will be presumed to be the father up to ten months after either event.
When parents agree to the parentage of the child. Unmarried parents may elect to sign a certificate of parentage, which essentially is a document showing that both parents agree about the parentage of a child. This can be signed at any point, but it is important to note that the fathers’ name must also be added to the birth certificate separately.
When parents do not agree about the parentage of the child. When parents are in disagreement about the parentage of a child, either party may file a paternity action in New Jersey Family Court.
Ridgewood Paternity Lawyers Discuss Filing Paternity Suits
Paternity suits, commonly known as “paternity actions”, are filed in New Jersey Family Court to establish paternity of a child when the parents cannot come to an agreement outside of court. It is important to understand that this option is not just available to parents, and may be filed by any of the following individuals:
- The mother of the child
- The child
- The man who believes he is the father of the child
- Legal guardians or caretakers of the child
- Welfare agencies in the case where a child is receiving welfare
Once a paternity action is filed, your case will be heard by a NJ judge. Your Ridgewood paternity lawyer will present your case and demonstrate why you believe that the man is or is not the father of the child. These issues can often be settled in the courtroom by presenting evidence such as the existing relationship between the potential father and the child, the desires of the child, how long the dispute has existed and more.
If both parties still are not in agreement after these initial arguments are made, the judge may order a DNA test. If either party refuses to submit to a DNA test, judges may interpret such a refusal as evidence that the paternity claim is genuine.
Contact our Hackensack Paternity Action Attorneys Today
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our paternity action attorneys have extensive experience serving families from local Bergen County communities including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, Fort Lee, and all of Northern New Jersey. Our qualified legal team has been hand selected to represent highly diversified backgrounds and legal perspectives, including family law mediators, litigators, attorneys within the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, and much more.
If you or a loved one has any questions or concerns regarding the paternity of a child or any other family law legal matter, please contact us online or through our Hackensack, NJ offices by calling (201) 397-1750 today for a free and confidential consultation.