Why It Is Important to Establish Paternity
keith’s child support (Photo credit: Sean Durham)
A recent story on msn.com suggested that Chris Humphries, estranged husband of Kim Kardashian, is the legal father of the baby she is currently carrying. Yet, anyone who follows celebrity news knows that Kanye West is that baby’s daddy. Which is it?
What the MSN article was referring to is the legal definition of “father.” Under California law, Mr. Humphries could be considered the legal father of Ms. Kardashian’s unborn child because the couple’s divorce is not yet finalized. New Jersey has similar legal definitions of “father.” Under New Jersey law, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if the child’s birth occurs during the marriage of that man to the child’s biological mother or within 300 days of the termination of that marriage. (1)
In most cases, this definition accurately defines “father.” The relationship is questioned, however, when the couple separates, the marriages ends in divorce, or a child is conceived outside the marriage. In those situations, as long as the biological father acknowledges his relationship with the child in some manner, there should be few problems.
Establishing paternity is important to parents and child alike. First, it determines who is responsible for providing for the child. Although most reasonable people accept the responsibilities of parentage when raising their families, when relationships end, the lines of responsibility may blur. Child support orders can be enforced, however, with paternity established.
Even when child support is not an issue, establishing paternity evens out the playing field between children born in and out of wedlock. A child is entitled to certain benefits from his or her legal father, including inheritance rights and Social Security and veteran’s benefits. (2) Once paternity is established, these rights and benefits cannot be denied.
Establishing paternity can occur at any time prior to the child’s reaching the age of majority. Three basic ways of establishing paternity are for the biological parents to marry; for the biological father to file a voluntary acknowledgment or paternity affidavit; or for the court to order a paternity test. In New Jersey, this test is a non-invasive procedure that involves swabbing the inside of the mouth of all parties involved. (3)
Financial benefits are not the only reasons for establishing paternity. By knowing the identity of his or her biological parents, a child has access to medical and cultural background information which can be useful throughout his or her lifetime. (2)
If you or someone you know needs assistance with a paternity issue, particularly in Hunterdon County, the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm can be of assistance. The Rotolo Law Firm is located at 502 U.S. Highway 22 in Lebanon, NJ.