When the parents of a newborn are already married, they can both sign the birth certificate before leaving the hospital. Doing so establishes parentage and provides the spouses with the rights and responsibilities associated with it.
However, when parents are not married, only the mother can sign the birth certificate in the State of New Jersey. The only way the newborn’s father can add his name to the birth certificate by completing a Certificate of Parentage. If both the mother and father sign their section of the document before leaving the hospital, establishing paternity is free.
Parents can also complete the Certificate of Parentage after leaving the hospital, but there may be a filing charge.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity in New Jersey
By adding his name to the birth certificate, the father gains legal rights to the child and the rewards and responsibilities of fatherhood.
By establishing paternity, both parents can do the following:
- Establish an emotional bond with the child
- Share the responsibility of parenthood
- Show commitment to the child
There are benefits for the child as well. When the father’s name is on the birth certificate, his child gains access to the following:
- The father’s benefits, such as Social Security, health insurance, and veteran’s benefits if applicable
- Both families’ medical histories and lineage information
The advantages of establishing paternity in New Jersey make it worth the time and effort.
If You’re Unsure Whether You’re the Father
If you do not know whether you are the baby’s biological father, you should not complete the Certificate of Parentage until you know for sure.
To find out if you’re the father, you’ll need to take a DNA test. Many labs in New Jersey offer DNA tests to establish paternity. You can ask your doctor for a referral or contact a nearby lab for further instruction. The state-run New Jersey Paternity Opportunity Office can also provide information about low-cost DNA tests through your local welfare agency.
If the DNA samples match 95 percent or greater, the court can issue an order of paternity. The father can then add his name to the birth certificate.
If you need to establish paternity in New Jersey, Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC can help. Our team can assist you with filing the necessary paperwork for voluntary paternity. We can also help you file for an involuntary paternity hearing or get a child support order. Contact us for more details.