Previously, our blog started exploring the issue of how paternity is established here in New Jersey. Specifically, we discussed what paternity is, why it’s so important and what happens if paternity is not contested.
In today’s post, the second in a series, we’ll continue to look at some basic background information about establishing both paternity and child support obligations here in New Jersey.
What happens if the person identified as the father of the child does not agree that the child is his?
In the event that there is a fundamental disagreement as to who the father of the child actually is, a paternity test will likely be undertaken. Here, either parent can request the test, or either the county office or the court can order the test to be performed.
This testing process involves a small sample of saliva being taken from the mother, child and male contesting paternity. In the event the test scores show that there is at least a 95 percent chance that the child belongs to the man, he will be viewed as the putative father in the eyes of the law.
Once paternity is verified, what’s the next step?
Once the identity of the father is confirmed, the next step is determining how much child support will need to be paid.
In general, the amount of child support will be calculated in accordance with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which are designed to determine just how much each parent must contribute financially towards raising a child.
How do the child support guidelines work?
While several blog posts could be dedicated to this important issue, the basic explanation is that the child support guidelines use what is known as an Income Shares formula to make this determination.
This means the income of both parents are considered along with expenses like child care, health insurance, and other factors deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
What happens if the parents agree or don’t agree on child support?
If the parents agree with the amount called for by the child support guidelines, a document known as a Consent Support Agreement will be executed and the courtroom will be avoided altogether.
However, if there is any disagreement concerning the amount of child support or other unresolved issues, the matter will have to be reviewed by the Family Court. Here, a final order dictating the amount of child support and payment conditions will be issued after all the facts are reviewed.
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about paternity or have child support concerns.
New Jersey Department of Human Services, “New Jersey child support program handbook,” June 2013