New Jersey has exacting laws pertaining to child support. One of the key issues that must be established before child support can be ordered is paternity. This is the state’s method of ensuring that men are not charged for child support if they are not the biological father of the child and have not made a declaration of paternity.
Establishing Paternity in New Jersey
In New Jersey, paternity may be established in a number of ways:
- The child was born during the marriage or within 10 months after a divorce. If a child is born during these time frames, a court will presume that the husband is the father of the child.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement. Also known as a Certificate of Parentage, executing one of these documents is the simplest and most cost-effective way to establish paternity. Essentially, both parents are in agreement as to who the father is. This acknowledgement is filed with the Department of Health and is extremely difficult to retract.
- A paternity action is filed. When parents can’t agree on who the father of the child is, a paternity case may be filed.
Paternity claims may only be made by:
- The child at issue;
- The child’s guardian or legal representative;
- The child’s mother;
- The man who believes he is the father of the child; or
- The county welfare agency if the child is receiving state assistance.
The court will likely require genetic testing to determine paternity if no one can agree on who the father is. If an alleged father refuses to undergo the genetic test, his actions may serve as evidence against him in a paternity case.
Requirements for Genetic Testing in New Jersey
In order to establish paternity in New Jersey, certain requirements must be met:
- The test must be run by a state-approved facility.
- The man is presumed to be the father if the test results show a 95% or higher probability.
- Either party can contest the results in writing within 10 days of receiving the results.
- The court may require payment for the testing in the event of a contest or if the man tested is found to be the father, unless the court determines that he cannot afford to.
Child Support Determinations Once Paternity Is Established
Once paternity of the child is finalized, a court will order some form of child support and will enforce the father’s obligations to pay. For child support orders established or changed after November 1, 1990, child support is taken out of the father’s paycheck, unemployment checks or workers’ compensation benefits. Failure to pay child support can result in a negative credit rating, a tax refund offset, asset seizure, license suspension and passport denial. Additionally, a judgment may be obtained against the father, which could lead to a warrant if the father disregards the court order, does not appear or does not pay.
If you are unsure of the paternity of your child or have issues revolving around child support or other family law matters, contact the experienced New Jersey family law attorneys at the Romanowski Law Offices. Call today at 732-603-8585 or visit us online for a free consultation.