Paternity and Rights to Parent in NJ
- April 30, 2012
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There is a presumption of paternity afforded to a man whose wife has a child during the parties marriage, even if the woman is artificially inseminated medically with the sperm of another donor in order to conceive. This presumption may be inaccurate and sometimes the truth is not discovered until later in the life of the child. A man or woman seeking to establish paternity should do so as soon as possible. In the event paternity is established through DNA testing there are certain legal rights and responsibilities which attach. Those rights and responsibilities also attach in the event of presumptive parentage. This means that if a man raises a child as his own from birth, whether he is the father or not, the rights and responsibilities of parentage will attach. This means whether you are married, live together or live separately but raise a child together the rights and responsibilities of parentage will attach to the male. As the child grows, so does the psychological bond between father and child and there is a presumption that termination of the bond between father and child will not be in the child’s best interests. The emotional well being, as well as physical well being, of a child is paramount in the eyes of the court and the child is to be protected first and foremost. For the mother this means if the man presumed to be the father is not actually the biological father and the biological father establishes paternity it will be difficult to sever the relationship and rights between the presumptive father and the child, even though the biological father wishes to participate as the child’s parent. It also means that the mother will not be delayed by paternity testing in the event the presumptive father wishes to terminate any child support he is providing the mother on behalf of the child and will be able to proceed directly to court to establish court ordered child support. For the father the presumption of paternity means if the mother wishes to terminate your parenting time with the child and you are not actually the biological father, you will still have certain rights to see the child you have been raising as your own, even if the biological father appears and is seeking custody or parenting time. This also means that the presumptive father will be required to support the child. Additionally, the child will likely be able to inherit from the estate of the father upon his death, whether parentage is presumptive or actual making it a hotly contested topic by families who have never believed parentage of the father to be accurate. If you are a parent questioning the paternity of a young or unborn child you should seek to establish paternity immediately. If you believed to be the father of a child, or you are a mother who believed the presumptive father was the biological father, and have learned this is not true you should immediately seek and experienced family attorney immediately. Additionally, if you recently learned you are the parent of a child you were unaware of and wish to participate in that child’s life, you should seek an experienced family lawyer immediately. The emotional well being of the child is paramount but your rights and emotional needs as a parent are important as well and must be protected. For more information on family, matrimonial or same-sex rights to parent, child support, custody or spousal support/alimony matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.