One of the most crucial aspects of any custody or support case involving a child is the establishment of paternity. This can mean a crucial difference between a potential father being held responsible for supporting the child and having to seek support elsewhere. In New Jersey, there are a wide variety of options for parents seeking to either dispute or prove paternity. The process must begin by one party wishing to establish paternity. This is usually done by the mother seeking to establish paternity in order to gain support for the child, or the father seeking to prove paternity in order to hold a stake in custody claims. At times children may also make these allegations with the court. Once an allegation is filed, the paternity establishing process will begin within 90 days of the day the potential father is reached and located.
Once paternity proceedings begin, matters are typically handled through New Jersey's Office of child Support and Paternity Programs, or the OCSPP. Any alleged fathers named in the initial allegation will be contacted. Potential fathers may end up being excluded if their match is less than 95% with the child. Also, the court may have evidence introduced to show that he is not the father as well. The OCSPP also has a program for fathers who are willing to submit to paternity, called the Paternity Opportunity Program. Through this method, potential fathers can willingly submit to claiming paternity for a child by making a filing of a Certificate of Parentage with the program, however, either party may request a genetic test or have a change of heart within 60 days of the signing.
Unfortunately, sometimes paternity can be a difficult legal matter when it comes to trying to hold someone responsible for child support. If the potential father refuses to acknowledge paternity or does not consent to any means to prove paternity, then a complaint will likely need to be filed with the court. If this happens the court may mandate genetic testing. Genetic testing must be done by a state-approved facility, and the results may be contested within 10 days of receiving them. For results that match at over 95% then it is assumed that the matching individual is the father of the child.
What Paternity Means In The Courtroom
Once paternity is established, there are several things that can take place. For instance, once paternity has been proven or accepted, the father now holds a stake in all matters of custody. On the contrary, once paternity is proven the father can also legally be held responsible for child support under New Jersey law. Basically, the purpose of determining paternity in matters involving potential child support is to seek out the father of the child, and determine if he may be held financially responsible.
If you or a loved one is involved in a custody dispute and paternity or support issues are involved, contact Joseph D. Lento today.