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Paternity refers to natural fatherhood. If you do not know who your child’s father is, it is important to establish paternity as a link to your child's past. Just the knowledge of the father's name and his medical history can help your child in years to come.
Paternity can be established by way of a paternity action initiated in Court. A paternity proceeding is an action to determine whether a particular man is the natural father of a particular child. A paternity action can be brought by a child, a mother, an alleged father or a legal representative. But no action for paternity shall be brought more than five years after a child reaches the age of 18.
A man may be presumed to be a biological father in certain circumstances. For instance, if a man and the child's biological mother are married or the child was born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment or divorce, then the man is presumed to be the biological father. Or if a man and the child’s biological mother have attempted to marry each other before the child’s birth, then he is presumed to be the biological father. If there is no presumption of paternity, a man can be established as a biological father by way of genetic test.
If paternity is established, the father will have an obligation to provide support for that child. He will also have rights as a parent for that child. Yet even in circumstances where a man is not the biological father, he can have an obligation to a child if he is considered to be the psychological father of a child. Despite the lack of a genetic link, if a man supported a child and held that child out as his own, he can have an obligation to support that child even if it is determined later that he is not the biological father. Therefore, it is very important to establish paternity early on in a child’s life, in order to avoid the potential pitfalls one might face if presumed to be a biological parent.
At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our New Jersey paternity lawyers can assist clients in navigating through the paternity process. We can arrange for the appropriate genetic testing to determine if there is a biological link between a child and a potential biological father.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.