New Jersey law presumes that when a married woman gives birth to her child, her husband is the legal father. If the mother is unmarried, then additional steps must be taken to establish paternity. Assuming the parents agree on the identity of the father and there are no objectors (such as a third party claiming to be the father), the easiest way to establish paternity is for the parents to fill out a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, also called a certificate of parentage. The document establishes the legal father-child relationship and may be used to seek child support, enforce health insurance, obtain custody, or otherwise enforce parent-child rights and obligations. Continue reading to learn about acknowledgments of paternity and how to get a hold of them, and contact a dedicated Englewood paternity attorney for help with paternity or another a New Jersey family law matter.
Establishing Paternity Through Voluntary Acknowledgement
If both parents agree on the identity of the father of a child, but the parents are not married, they can fill out a voluntary acknowledgment form. The form has the same force and effect as a court order or judgment of paternity. Note that if the form is signed at the hospital or local registrar’s office shortly after birth, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate. If the form is signed elsewhere, the parents will have to request that the father’s name is placed on the birth certificate.
Getting a Copy of the Acknowledgement
It is important to keep a copy of the acknowledgment form in case any issues arise concerning the father’s rights or obligations. If he is challenged by school officials or physicians about his right to make decisions for a child, or if the mother is seeking to enforce child support or other parental obligations, the form is a powerful and handy piece of evidence for quickly resolving the dispute. Parents may also need to submit a copy of the acknowledgment to change the child’s birth certificate.
Parents can request a copy of the certificate of parentage by contacting the New Jersey Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) at 1-800-767-6607. The POP is a program established by the state to help children of unmarried parents establish a legal relationship with their father.
Help with a New Jersey Child Custody or Paternity Matter
If you’re facing issues concerning paternity, child custody, child support, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.