If you have a child with someone you are not married to or in a long-term, monogamous relationship with, it’s vital to establish paternity. Not only is it beneficial to the child, but it can help both parents as well. Whether you’re the child’s mother and want to fight for child support or the father looking for custody, this is an essential step. Keep reading to learn more about how to proceed and how an experienced Somerset County family law attorney can help you navigate this often complex and confusing matter.
How Do I Establish Paternity in New Jersey?
There are two main methods used to establish the paternity of a child.
One option is to complete a voluntary certificate through the Office of Child Support and Paternity Programs. This Certificate of Parentage is a legal acknowledgment with the same impact as a court order. Both parties can request a genetic test and may change their mind within sixty days of signing.
However, if one party contests paternity, the court can order the child and parties to submit a DNA test. In most instances, this test must be done through a lab, as home DNA tests are generally not admissible in court. If the test is a 95% match or higher, the man is assumed to be the child’s father.
Why Should I Create a Link?
There are several reasons to establish the paternity of a child on behalf of both the parents and the child.
For children, knowing who their father is is essential for medical history. Informing your child’s doctor about maternal and paternal family history can help them look for conditions that could impact your child. For example, if there is a risk of heart disease on the father’s side, the child must know this, as they may need to be monitored for heart conditions.
For custodial mothers, establishing a paternal link is vital to receiving the financial support your child is entitled to. Without a Certificate of Parentage or genetic test confirming the child is yours, you likely will not receive child support.
For fathers who may not see their child because there is no link, proving that the child is yours can help you receive custody. If you want a relationship with the child, proving you fathered them is essential, as the courts will not grant you custody or visitation rights without it.
Unfortunately, establishing paternity can be a challenging and complex process. As such, it’s vital to ensure you enlist the assistance of a family law attorney to help you navigate this complicated legal matter. At the Siragusa Law Firm, our dedicated firm will do everything possible to help you through this process. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to assist you through this matter.