In New Jersey, when a woman gives birth to or adopts a child, she is considered to be the legal mother. Through the establishment of paternity, a biological father is recognized as the legal father when he and the mother are not married. Paternity can be legally established in two ways:

  • A father’s name can be included on the birth certificate through the completion of a Certificate of Parentage, which both parents are required to sign. The easiest and most common method for both parents is to complete the Certificate of Parentage at the hospital with the coordinator who handles birth certificates. The father’s name will then be included on the birth certificate. This can also be completed at a later date at the local registrar’s office.
  • A court enters a Judgment of Paternity or Judgment of Adoption legally declaring the man to be the child’s father.

What is Legal Presumption of Paternity?

Even in the cases where paternity has not been legally established that are certain legal presumptions that apply. In cases where parents marry within 300 days of the birth of a child, the husband is legally presumed to be the father. The same is true for a man who had previously been married to the mother of the child but either divorced her or died within 300 days before the birth took place.

In cases where a couple marries after the birth of a child, a legal presumption of paternity arises only if the following conditions occur:

  • He acknowledges paternity in writing to the state Registrar.
  • He requests to add his name as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
  • He tells other people that he is the biological father of the child, and he agrees to or is court-ordered to pay child support.

Can You be Forced to Take a Paternity Test In New Jersey?

In most circumstances, no one can be forced to take a DNA paternity test. However, one exception to this rule would be when a judge issues a court order that a paternity test must be performed. If you refuse to comply with a court order, then you most likely will be held in contempt of court which is a violation of the law. This can lead to fines and possibly even a criminal charge. This applies to both supposed mothers and fathers who refuse to take the test. The majority of the time, the court will assume that the reason the father refused the DNA test is that it would have proven him to be the father.

How Can A Family Law Attorney Help Me With Establishing Paternity?

Often times questions of paternity arise due to complicated relationships and other circumstances that may occur. Our family law attorneys understand the challenges that may be involved in either establishing paternity or proving that you are not the biological father of a child. We can assist you by answering all of your legal questions regarding paternity. Contact us at (908) 879-9499 and schedule an appointment for a one-hour strategy session. We can advise you as to both your rights and legal options.