NEW JERSEY PATERNITY LAW
Contesting paternity is a controversial and often-litigated issue in this day and age, due to recent advances in genetic testing. Traditionally, there was little that men could realistically do to challenge the paternity of children born during your marriage.
Today, New Jersey law allows men to contest paternity when their ex-wife or ex-girlfriend files a Complaint for Child Support.
In addition, NJ law now allows men to disestablish paternity, based upon newly acquired information.
In D.W. v. R.W., the New Jersey Supreme Court laid down a clear-cut set of common-sense guidelines which will enable one to not only disestablish paternity and cancel child-support payments, but also file a lawsuit against the actual biological father (if known) so that one can be reimbursed for all or a portion of the money you previously spent on child-support. 212 N.J. 232 (2012).
According to the Court, these factors are:
(1) the length of time between the proceeding to adjudicate the parentage and the time that the presumed or acknowledged father was placed on notice that he might not be the genetic father;
(2) the length of time during which the presumed or acknowledged father has assumed the role of father of the child;
(3) the facts surrounding the presumed or acknowledged father’s discovery of his possible non-paternity;
(4) the nature of the relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father;
(5) the nature of the relationship between the child and any alleged father;
(6) the age of the child;
(7) the degree of physical, mental and emotional harm that may result to the child if presumed or acknowledged paternity is successfully disproved;
(8) the extent to which the passage of time reduces the chances of establishing the paternity of another man and a child support obligation in favor of the child;
(9) the extent, if any, to which uncertainty of parentage exists in the child’s mind;
(10) the child’s interest in knowing family and genetic background, including medical and emotional history;
(11) other factors that may affect the equities arising from the disruption of the father-child relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father or the chance of other harm to the child. (Id. at 1057).
A key issue in determining whether one can disestablish paternity, though, is whether the father had prior knowledge or suspicion of paternity, but nonetheless entered into a child support agreement, Consent Order, or Property Settlement Agreement. A man who suspects that he's not the biological father of a child, but nonetheless enters into a parent-child relationship and/or agrees to pay child support without contesting paternity, may forever be barred from asserting such a claim in the future.
This is why its so important to consult with an attorney whenever there is the slightest degree of doubt as to parentage. Once you sign the paperwork, and agree to the terms, there may be no going back.
If you live in South Jersey and wish to contest or challenge paternity in a current or past legal matter, then contact my office immediately for a free consultation. I treat every client with extra-special care and go over the evidence and facts of their case, in-depth, so that no stone is un-turned in their legal defense.
Call us for quality, compassionate, and individualized representation: 856-873-3730