Bergen County Paternity Lawyer
Disputes over paternity can come up between unmarried parents or married parents getting a divorce.
No matter when they arise, paternity questions can cause tension. If you need a Bergen County paternity lawyer to establish paternity, reach out to us at Arons & Solomon.
Once paternity and parental rights are established, our law firm can help you exercise your custody rights on a fixed schedule.
How Arons & Solomon Can Help You Establish or Challenge Paternity in Bergen County
While paternity might seem relatively straightforward, that’s not always the case. There are a multitude of reasons why a person would want to establish or contest paternity – and both of those processes can be complicated.
Having an experienced Bergen County divorce attorney standing beside you can make things a lot easier.
At Arons & Solomon, our family law attorneys in Bergen County have 150+ years of collective experience representing clients just like you.
We appreciate the complexities of paternity cases and other family law matters that might arise.
We’re ready to put the entirety of our experience and considerable resources into helping you in any way that we can.
When you hire our law office, you can expect us to:
- Listen carefully to your concerns and identify the legal options available to you
- Gather information and evidence that will be necessary to support your paternity case
- Handle all conversations and correspondence with other parties and their legal counsel
- Engage in alternative dispute resolution strategies designed to find an amicable solution
- Argue in family court on your behalf, if necessary
Establishing paternity can have ripple effects across your life. It can affect your finances as well as your child custody arrangement. Our divorce and family law attorneys in Bergen County can help you navigate these and other issues. To begin, simply give our law office a call or connect with us online. We offer a free consultation, so contact our law group for legal advice today.
Overview of Paternity Cases
Paternity is a legal relationship status between a father and child. It entitles both the parent and the child to certain legal rights, like access to information, the ability to inherit, and the benefit of child support.
Paternity cases can involve establishing paternity or challenging paternity. A child’s paternity is determined by a legal presumption based on the marital status of the mother at the time of the child’s birth. New Jersey law recognizes several paternity presumptions.
Legal Presumptions of Paternity in New Jersey
Logically, the husband of a married woman is likely to be the father of her child. Legally, the husband of a married woman is presumed to be the father of her child. A legal presumption is a fact that a court will assume to be true until evidence is shown to prove it untrue.
When a child is born to unmarried parents, there is no legal presumption of paternity. The mother is the only parent New Jersey law recognizes. An unmarried father’s legal parental rights must be established by proof of paternity.
New Jersey law recognizes the value of parental relationships and favors the establishment of paternity. Before DNA testing was common, paternity laws were written to allow men to make a claim of parentage with relative ease and the consent of the mother.
For example, a man can establish paternity by marrying a child’s mother. In addition, a man seeking to establish paternity in this manner must:
- Acknowledge paternity in writing filed with the state registrar
- Request to have his name added on the child’s birth certificate
- Tell third parties that the child is his biological child
- Agree to pay or be ordered to pay child support
When a man claims paternity in this way, it can be difficult to challenge later.
Establishing Paternity in Bergen County, NJ
If you need to establish paternity, you are not alone. One-third of children born in New Jersey in 2018 were born to unmarried mothers, according to New Jersey birth data statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Establishing proof of paternity can be done easily if both parents agree. With the consent of the child’s mother, a man can admit that he is the father of a child. By admitting, or acknowledging, the child, the man agrees to paternity.
When unmarried parents can agree on paternity, they complete a Certificate of Parentage and file it with the state registrar of New Jersey.
When a child is born to married parents, and the husband is not the biological father, paternity can be established if:
- The mother and the biological father sign a Certificate of Parentage
- The mother and her husband sign a Denial of Parentage, which states that the husband is not the child’s biological father
- Both the Certificate of Parentage and Denial of Parentage are filed with the state registrar
Our experienced New Jersey family law and paternity lawyers can lead you through the process of establishing paternity with tact and discretion.
By Court-Ordered DNA Testing
Unfortunately, two people cannot always agree on the parentage of a child. In cases where paternity is in dispute, the court will order a DNA test to resolve the issue.
For paternity cases, proof must be established by a “preponderance of the evidence.” To reach a preponderance of the evidence, the evidence must convince the court that a fact is more likely true than not true.
Once paternity is established, a child can be eligible to benefit in many ways.
Some benefits include:
- Coverage under a father’s health insurance
- Entitlement to child support
- Opportunity to inherit from their father
A man can ask the court to settle paternity even if the mother does not want to allow the DNA test.
New Jersey courts consider many factors when deciding whether to order a DNA paternity test. Before ordering DNA testing, some things the court will evaluate include:
- The age of the child and whether any doubt exists in the child’s mind as to paternity
- The nature of the relationship between the child and presumed or acknowledged father
- The nature of the relationship between the child and any alleged father
- The child’s interest in access to genetic information and family medical history
- How long the presumed or acknowledged father waited to file for paternity after being given notice as to the child’s potential biological paternity
- How the presumed or acknowledged father discovered the potential biological paternity
If no presumed or acknowledged father exists, a court will order DNA testing if the evidence demonstrates a likelihood that the man is the child’s father. Evidence of this kind can include circumstantial evidence like:
- Witness testimony as to the relationship between the mother and the alleged father at the time of the child’s conception
- Whether either parent told others that the alleged father was the biological father
The right to paternity belongs to the child. At Arons & Solomon, we can help you get legal confirmation of your familial relationships: a judgment of paternity.
The Impact of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity is only the first step. New Jersey law recognizes that children deserve time with both parents at home, for holidays, and on vacation. Once paternity is established, we help our clients resolve the related issues of child custody, time-sharing, and child support.
Child Custody, Time-Sharing and Parenting Plan
After paternity is established, parents who have gone through the divorce process and unmarried parents are afforded the same parental rights as married parents under New Jersey law. Child custody includes both legal custody and physical custody. Parents can agree to legal and physical custody arrangements.
Legal custody describes each parent’s right to exercise authority in decision-making related to the child. Parents should confer in the exercise of their decision-making related to major decisions, like where a child will go to school or in what extracurricular activities they should participate.
Physical custody refers to the time a child is in a parent’s care. In New Jersey, physical custody is called time-sharing. The time-sharing schedule can be tailored to the needs of parents who can agree and compromise.
Children benefit from structure and routine. A carefully designed Parenting Plan can support a healthy co-parenting relationship.
When parents are unable to agree, the court decides the contested custody case. All custody decisions are based on the best interest of the child under New Jersey law.
In some contested custody cases, the court may order a custody evaluation. We have years of experience with custody evaluations and have condensed our wisdom into these helpful custody evaluation tips.
Child support is determined based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.
The guidelines use both parents’ combined monthly income and the number of children to determine a basic child support amount.
Under the New Jersey child support guidelines, child custody can influence the amount of child support. Exercising more custody time can marginally decrease child support.
However, the difference between parental income has a more significant impact on the total amount of child support owed.
Because New Jersey uses the proportionate shares child support model, each parent is responsible for supporting the child in an amount proportionate to their earning ability. A parent who earns less money will owe a smaller percentage of total child support.
The cash payment one parent makes to the other each month represents that parent’s portion of the child’s expenses. The higher-earning parent usually owes child support, regardless of custody arrangements.
In New Jersey, both acknowledged and presumed fathers can challenge paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity can be revoked within 60 days after it is signed, as long as a child support order has not been entered.
When a presumption of paternity exists, the court can decide paternity on the request of:
- The child
- The mother
- The legally presumed father or
- A man who believes himself to be the child’s biological father
A paternity challenge has to be filed before the child reaches age 23.
A person who challenges the legal presumption of paternity has to show strong evidence to prove their case.
To disavow paternity, clear and convincing evidence is required.
More influential evidence would be needed to reach clear and convincing evidence than the lower standard of the preponderance of the evidence.
Paternity Lawyers Available Throughout Bergen County
It doesn’t matter where you live – paternity can easily become an issue for you and your family. At Arons & Solomon, our New jersey family law attorneys handle paternity matters for clients throughout Passaic County, Morris County, and Bergen County.
- Franklin Lakes
- Upper Saddle River
- Old Tappan
- Saddle River
Whether you want to challenge paternity or establish it, Arons & Solomon can help. Give our law offices – conveniently located in in Hackensack and Madison – a call to get started with a free case evaluation today.
Call a Bergen County Paternity Lawyer
Paternity issues can be awkward and embarrassing. Contact Arons & Solomon when you need a discreet and professional Bergen County paternity lawyer.