Becoming a parent is often something many people dream of. Unfortunately, situations involving unmarried parents who are no longer together means that the issue of custody must be dealt with.
A custody order between unmarried parents in New Jersey first requires that paternity be established. Paternity is making the child’s biological father their legal father.
Paternity is automatic if the father’s name is on the birth certificate
Paternity is established if the father’s name appears on the birth certificate. This is done by having both parents complete a certificate of parentage.
But what happens if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, and the mother will not cooperate with completing a certificate of parentage?
Filing a paternity complaint
If this is the situation you are in, you can file a complaint for paternity and request that genetic testing be done. The testing must be done by a state-approved facility.
If the genetic test results show that there is a 95% probability or higher that you are the biological father, the court will presume you are the father.
Contesting or canceling paternity
Both parents have 10 days to contest the results by filing a written objection. They also have 60 days to cancel the paternity acknowledgment.
Once paternity is established, you can file a custody action through the New Jersey court if you are seeking to obtain custody or parenting time with your child.
What if the mother is married to someone else?
The situation changes if the mother is married to someone else at the time of conception, birth or within 300 days before giving birth. In that case, her husband is automatically presumed to be the child’s legal father and their name is added to the child’s birth certificate.
This can significantly complicate the process of establishing paternity. No matter what your situation, it can help to work with an experienced family law attorney when you are looking to establish paternity.