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Many people believe that only married or divorced parents have equal child custody and visitation privileges. Despite this misconception, parents in New Jersey share equal custody rights and responsibilities for supporting their children. However, fathers must first establish paternity to assert those rights.
If you wish to establish paternity but you were not married to the other parent when your child was born, there are certain legal steps that an experienced attorney could help you complete. A Livingston paternity lawyer could explain the formal process and file an action in court on your behalf, if necessary.
Under the New Jersey Parentage Act, there are several ways to establish paternity. New Jersey Statutes Annotated 9:17-41 sets out the state’s legal requirements.
A husband is presumed to be the child’s father if the child is born during the marriage. A man in this circumstance need not take any action to establish himself as the child’s legal father unless the mother challenges his paternity.
If a man is not married to his co-parent when their child is born, but they both acknowledge that he is the child’s biological father, they may sign a Certificate of Parentage. This document is valid unless the man rescinds it within 60 days of signing or someone challenges it.
If the parents cannot agree on the child’s father, either of them can file a paternity action in New Jersey. A judge could then require the father and the child to submit to a DNA test. If the court orders testing and the alleged father refuses, a judge could consider that as evidence that the man is the biological father. A knowledgeable Livingston attorney could further explain the parents’ rights and obligations in a court action and what evidence is required to establish paternity.
New Jersey law allows only certain people to request a paternity acknowledgment or DNA testing. These include:
A well-practiced attorney in the area could file an action to establish paternity on behalf of an authorized party.
Unless paternity is determined, a child might not have the same rights and benefits as someone with two legal parents. Additionally, the child’s parents could also benefit from the process of establishing paternity.
Identifying the legal father provides both financial and emotional benefits to the child. Some of these include:
A paternity lawyer could provide invaluable advice in identifying a child’s legal father in Livingston and securing the related benefits.
Once paternity is confirmed, the legal father has a right to custody or visitation with the child and to participate in any adoption proceeding. The father also has a right to be involved in decisions for the child, including medical, educational, and religious choices.
After the father is legally identified, the mother may share parental responsibilities with him. Depending on the custodial arrangement and the parents’ incomes, the mother may receive child support from the father.
The decision to legally establish a child’s father can be significant for both the parents and the child. If you want to establish paternity, or if you are facing a court-ordered DNA test, call a Livingston paternity lawyer for help. Our skilled attorneys have experience handling these matters and could offer crucial advice to secure the desired outcome of your paternity case.