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Reasons to establish paternity and how to do it

There are a number of reasons that either a mother or a father in New Jersey might want to establish paternity if the parents are not married. Establishing paternity is the first step in obtaining child support, but the potential financial benefits go beyond that. It is also necessary for a child to inherit from the father and get benefits such as Social Security. Finally, establishing paternity could help the child get information about any medical genetic issues that might arise.

Paternity might be voluntarily acknowledged. The father might do so at the birth of the child or later sign an affidavit of paternity.

However, if the father is unwilling to do this or the mother cannot locate the father, the local office of Child Support Enforcement may be able to assist. The IRS and other agencies may help in finding the father, and he will first be offered the option of acknowledging paternity. A father who does not may be asked to submit to a genetic test. If he refuses this test, he might be named the father by default. The father will be notified of the results of the genetic test.

Establishing paternity is accompanied by a financial responsibility to the child, but a father might also want to do so in order to get visitation or custody rights. Once paternity is formally established, the parents might agree to share custody. A mother or a father who is considering establishing paternity might want to talk to an attorney about the process and what the parent's aims are in doing so. For example, a mother may want the father to fulfill his financial obligations but have limited access to the child if the father was neglectful.

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