By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.
The Webster’s Dictionary defines paternity as “fatherhood: origin or descent from a father.” Paternity issues usually occur when a mother requests that the alleged father pay child support. The statute in New Jersey that controls the establishment of paternity in New Jersey is the “New Jersey Parentage Act” also known as N.J.S.A. 9:17-38 et seq. According to said statute any person who has sexual intercourse in New Jersey and who may have conceived a child by said act submits to the jurisdiction of the Courts in New Jersey. Also, jurisdiction may be acquired by service in accordance with New Jersey Court rules. The following parties under the statute can bring a paternity action or defend a paternity action:
- A child or their legal representative.
- A child’s mother.
- The estate or legal representative of the mother if the mother is a minor or is deceased.
- A man who is alleged or is claiming to be the father.
- If the father has deceased or is a minor, the Division of Family Development in the Department of Human Service or the county welfare agency.
- Any other individual seen as justiciable by the Court may bring an action or be made a party to an action at any time for the reason of establishing the existence or non existence of a parent and relationship.
According to N.J.S.A 9:17-43 a man is presumed to be the biological father if:
- The man and the biological mother have been married and the child has been born during the marriage or within 300 days after said marriage has ended by death, annulment or divorce.
- The man and the child’s mother have attempted to marry each other before the child’s birth in apparent compliance with the law although said marriage is or could be held invalid and:
- If said attempted marriage could be found invalid only by a Court and the child is born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after it ended by divorce, death, or annulment.
- If said attempted marriage is invalid without a Court Order and the child is born within 300 days after cohabitation ended.
- The man and the mother have married or attempted to marry each other after the child’s birth in apparent compliance with the law although said marriage could be held invalid and:
- The man in a writing filed with vital statistics has acknowledged his paternity of the child.
- The man has attempted to have his name placed on the child’s birth certificate.
- The man has openly acknowledged the child as his own natural child.
- The man has obligated himself to support the child under a Court Order or written agreement.
- The man while the child is a minor, receives said child in his home and acknowledges the child as his own natural child.
- The man while the child is a minor supports the child and acknowledges the child as his own natural child.
- The man admits his paternity of the child in a writing filed with vital statistics which has quickly informed the mother and she does not dispute the same.
A presumption of paternity under the above statute can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. It is obvious that a finding of paternity can have great consequences for everyone involved. If you are facing a paternity issue, call Peter Van Aulen today for a free consultation.