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Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in New Jersey

Doctor points at result on paternity test result form

Establishing paternity can benefit parents and their children.  Paternity grants fathers certain rights with respect to requesting custody and visitation and also subjects them to certain responsibilities, including, for example, child support.  Children also get the benefit of health insurance, Social Security, Veterans benefits, inheritance, and other benefits through established fathers.  While maternity is obviously established at the instant of birth, paternity must be established in some fashion to carry legal effect.  There are a few methods to establish paternity in New Jersey, the easiest of which is voluntary acknowledgment.  Learn below about establishing paternity in New Jersey, and contact a seasoned Englewood child custody lawyer with any questions you may have.

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 of this presumption, paternity must be affirmatively established by the mother, father, or another party.

Certificate of parentage or voluntary agreement

The simplest and most cost-effective way to establish paternity is for both parties to voluntarily sign a “Certificate of Parentage” (“COP,” also called a “Voluntary Acknowledgement”).  The mother and father sign this document to affirm that they both agree that 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, after leaving the hospital, you can fill out the form at a state or county registrar’s office or a local welfare office.

Once a COP has been filed, it is difficult to change or retract the acknowledgment of parentage.  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 to first undergo genetic testing and fill out the COP after receiving confirmation.

Help with Establishing Paternity from Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorneys

If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or facing child custody, paternity, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss at 201-440-6300.

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