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New Jersey Supreme Court rules parent is entitled to genetic test

Readers in Sussex County may be interested in learning about a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that was issued recently. According to the Court, when it comes to the family law issue of paternity, parents are entitled to get a genetic test when a child's paternity is in dispute.

The decision stems from a 2006 divorce case that was filed in Morris County, New Jersey. The husband in the case claimed he was not the father of his youngest son. Instead, he claimed his brother-in-law was the father. The brother-in-law neither denied nor admitted that he was father. The husband sought repayment from the brother-in-law for raising the child.

The husband got a privately commissioned genetic test after the wife admitted to having an affair with the brother-in-law around the time of conception. The genetic test ruled the husband out as the father of the boy, who is now an adult. While the lower courts ruled that a genetic test by the state would not be in the child's best interests, the New Jersey Supreme Court disagreed in its 5-1 decision.

While the identity of a child's mother is generally easy to establish, the father's identity can be difficult to determine. This is when paternity, one of the most dramatic family law issues, comes into play. Basically, paternity refers to the legal establishment of the identity of the father of a child. The issue of paternity arises in relation to adoption, inheritance, custody and visitation and other instances, such as the case above.

Paternity issues can have far-reaching implications, both financially and emotionally. It is important for anyone dealing with family legal issues to understand what paternity means, and how it can be determined.

Source: NorthJersey.com "N.J. Supreme Court: Parents entitled to genetic test in paternity disputes," Oct. 10, 2012

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