Bergen County Paternity Lawyers
Helping Dads Secure Parental Rights & Obligations
In the intricate tapestry of family law, paternity matters stand as a significant thread, weaving together the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. At Herbert & Weiss, LLP, we recognize the delicate nature of paternity cases and the profound impact they can have on individuals and families. Our seasoned legal team is committed to guiding our clients in Bergen County through the complexities of establishing paternity, ensuring that their rights are protected, and their voices are heard.
Call Herbert & Weiss, LLP today at (201) 500-2151 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our paternity attorney in Bergen County!
What is Paternity?
Paternity, in a legal context, refers to the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child. This acknowledgment carries a range of rights and responsibilities, including but not limited to child custody, visitation, and child support. Establishing paternity is a crucial step towards ensuring that both parents contribute to the well-being and upbringing of their child.
At Herbert & Weiss, LLP, our attorneys comprehend paternity cases' nuanced and often emotionally charged aspects. We approach each situation with sensitivity, recognizing the unique circumstances surrounding the establishment of paternity. Whether through voluntary acknowledgment or court-ordered paternity testing, we work diligently to navigate the legal terrain and advocate for the best interests of our clients.
Establishing Paternity in New Jersey
In New Jersey, paternity can be established through various means, each affirming the biological connection between a father and his child. Voluntary acknowledgment is a standard method wherein parents sign a legal document affirming the father's paternity. This can occur at the hospital during the child's birth or later.
A court order may be necessary if there is a dispute or if one party is unwilling to acknowledge paternity. Herbert & Weiss, LLP boasts a wealth of experience navigating the New Jersey legal system. Our attorneys are adept at presenting compelling cases, utilizing evidence such as DNA testing to establish paternity conclusively. We recognize that each case is unique, and our tailored approach ensures our clients receive the personalized attention they deserve.
Certificate of Parentage or Voluntary Agreement
The simplest and most cost-effective way to establish paternity is for both parties to sign a “Certificate of Parentage voluntarily” (“COP,” also called a “Voluntary Acknowledgement”). The mother and father sign this document affirming they are the child’s parents. The COP will then be filed with the state Department of Health, after which the father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate.
The earliest opportunity to sign the COP is at the hospital, right after the birth of a child. Hospital staff can help you complete the firm.
Alternatively, you can fill out the form at a state or county registrar’s or local welfare office after leaving the hospital. Once a COP has been filed, changing or retracting the acknowledgment of parentage is difficult. If there is a reason to doubt biological paternity that will affect whether the parties agree to sign a COP, then the parties can choose first to undergo genetic testing and fill out the COP after receiving confirmation.
Legal Presumption of Paternity
Under New Jersey law, there may be a “legal presumption” of paternity depending on the circumstances. A legal presumption is a fact that a court will assume to be true unless there is specific evidence to prove otherwise–the burden, then, would be on anyone challenging paternity.
New Jersey courts will presume paternity under certain circumstances, including the following:
- The parents were married within 300 days of the birth. The most traditional means to establish paternity is to be married to the birth mother. If the parents were married at the time of birth, the father died, or the parties divorced within 300 days of the birth, then the husband is presumed to be the father. If a woman is in a civil union or marriage with another woman, her female partner or spouse will also have the legal presumption of parentage.
- The parties married after the birth of the child. New Jersey law will presume that a father who married the birth mother after the child was born is the father if the following is true:
- The father acknowledges paternity in writing to the state registrar;
- The father seeks to have his name added to the child’s birth certificate;
- The father presents himself as the child’s father to other people, AND
- The father agrees to child support or is ordered by a court to pay child support
- An unmarried father who declares himself the father. If the man tells people he is the father and supports the child before the child turns 18, he will be the presumed father.
- The biological father is not the husband. If a child is born into a marriage, but the biological father is not the husband, the natural parents may still secure a legal presumption of parentage for the biological father. The biological father and the mother must sign the COP, and the husband and mother must sign a “Denial of Parentage” form, acknowledging that the husband is not the father. The parties must then file the forms with the county registrar.
Additional circumstances call for a legal presumption of paternity, such as situations involving artificial insemination. A knowledgeable Bergen County paternity lawyer can answer your questions.
Presumption of Paternity For Marital Children
A child born during a legal marriage or within ten months following a divorce or the death of the putative father is presumed to be the child of the mother’s legal spouse. If a child is born under circumstances outside this presumption, paternity must be affirmatively established by the mother, father, or another party.
Who May File a Paternity Petition?
Paternity cases can be initiated by different parties involved in the child's life. These parties include the mother, father, the child, or even the state. Whether you are seeking to establish paternity or challenging paternity claims, our skilled attorneys are here to provide comprehensive legal representation tailored to your unique situation.
It's important to note that establishing paternity can have significant implications for child custody, visitation rights, and child support. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you understand your rights and responsibilities, guiding you through the legal process with clarity and efficiency.
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity?
Timing is a critical factor in paternity cases, and fathers may wonder about the window of opportunity for establishing legal paternity. In New Jersey, there is no specific timeframe for establishing paternity. However, it is advisable to address these matters promptly to avoid potential legal complications.
Herbert & Weiss, LLP encourages fathers to take proactive steps to establish paternity as soon as possible. Whether through voluntary acknowledgment or legal proceedings, our experienced attorneys can guide fathers through the process efficiently, ensuring their rights are protected and the child's best interests are upheld.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity For The Child
Establishing paternity offers numerous benefits, primarily for the well-being and future of the child. Some key advantages include:
- Financial Support: By establishing paternity, the child gains access to financial support, including child support and potential benefits such as health insurance and inheritance rights.
- Emotional and Social Benefits: Knowing both parents and having a legal relationship with them can contribute to the child's emotional and social development. It can also provide a sense of identity and belonging.
- Access to Medical History: Establishing paternity ensures that the child has access to their complete medical history, which can be crucial for addressing any potential health issues.
- Inheritance Rights: Paternity establishes a legal connection between the child and their father, ensuring inheritance rights and potential access to benefits that may be available through the father's estate.
Our legal team at Herbert & Weiss, LLP, is committed to advocating for the child's best interests in paternity cases. We understand the importance of a stable and supportive environment for the child's growth, and we work diligently to secure favorable outcomes that prioritize their well-being.
How to Petition the Court to Establish Paternity
Petitioning the court to establish paternity involves a series of legal steps, and having knowledgeable legal representation is crucial for a successful outcome. The process typically includes:
- Filing a Paternity Petition: A paternity case is initiated by filing a petition with the court. Our experienced attorneys can assist you in preparing and filing the necessary legal documents to kickstart the process.
- Genetic Testing: In some cases, the court may order genetic testing to determine the biological relationship between the alleged father and the child. We can guide you through this process, ensuring it is conducted accurately and complies with legal standards.
- Court Hearings and Resolution: The court will schedule hearings to review evidence and determine paternity, child custody, visitation, and child support. Our legal team is prepared to represent you effectively during these proceedings, advocating for your rights and the child's best interests.
- Establishing Legal Rights and Obligations: Once paternity is established, legal rights and obligations, including child support and custody arrangements, can be formalized. Our attorneys are dedicated to securing favorable outcomes that protect your interests and promote the child's well-being.
Contact Our Bergen County Paternity Attorney Today
Navigating the intricacies of paternity law requires seasoned legal guidance, and Herbert & Weiss, LLP stands ready to be your advocate in Bergen County. Our commitment to excellence and a compassionate approach sets us apart in family law. If you face paternity-related challenges, our legal team is here to provide the support and expertise you need. Contact Herbert & Weiss, LLP today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing your rights as a father.
Contact Herbert & Weiss, LLP today to schedule a meeting with our paternity lawyer in Bergen County!
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