Many people believe that when a man’s name is indicated on a child’s birth certificate, that name is enough to establish paternity. However, that is not necessarily the case, particularly since the mother can list anyone she wants as the father of the child. Many people also believe that only DNA testing will establish paternity. Again, that is not true, as there are numerous ways in which paternity can be established in New Jersey.
The Presumption of Fatherhood
Your Camden County paternity lawyer will tell you that under New Jersey law, there are several events, the occurrence of which a man will be presumed to be a child’s biological father. The first (and more obvious) case is if the man and the biological mother are or were legally married to each other and the child was born either during the marriage or within 300 days after a divorce, annulment or death.
Another instance in which a man may be deemed a child’s father is if, prior to the child’s birth, the man and biological mother attempted to get married, but that marriage could be deemed invalid with or without a court (if the child was born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after a divorce, annulment, death or within 300 days after cohabitation has been terminated).
Additionally, another example that might lead to the presumption of paternity is when the man takes the child (when the child is still under the age of majority) into his home and holds the child out as his natural child and/or supports the child.
Rebutting the Presumption
If a man contests and/or disputes the fact that he’s the child’s father, he may attempt to rebut the presumption established under the law by bringing a proper legal action in court; but the only way he will be able to rebut the presumption is through the use of clear and convincing evidence. Such evidence might include submitting proof that another man is the child’s biological father or a court order that actually terminated the paternal rights of the presumed father.
When paternity is contested, a consent conference will be held to figure out whether the issue can be resolved prior to going to trial. If a trial is needed, experts may be called upon to testify, blood tests may be introduced and witnesses may testify as well.
Why Establishing Paternity is So Important
Establishing paternity is legally significant for all involved. For example, for the child, establishing paternity will help to secure the support needed from his or her father. Such support includes shelter and aid from the father, as well as access to certain pieces of personal information and the ability to receive certain benefits to which he or she may be entitled during the father’s life and after his death.
Paternity determinations are also significant for the mother who will be able to seek financial support from the father, as needed. For the father, legally-established paternity will hold him accountable for not only financial support but also overall responsibility of caring for the child.
If you are interested in learning more about legally establishing paternity, contact a paternity lawyer at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP at (856) 795-3300 or use our online contact form.