Category: Paternity

Everything You Need to Know to Move Forward with the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey

Stepparent Adoption Guidelines in New JerseyGiven that approximately 25% of first marriages in New Jersey result in divorce, second marriages are 60%, and third marriages are 73%, families are changing in the blink of an eye. Frequently, stepparents want to make their membership in the family official by adopting their spouse’s children. Across the country, stepparent adoption is just behind foster parent adoptions, which are the most common. Stepparents do not have parental rights of any kind, and by adopting their spouse’s children, that changes.

Adopting your stepchild requires the experience of qualified adoption lawyers who know the law and have mastered the procedures necessary to get a positive outcome in your case. Having the close support of the lawyers at The Bronzino Law Firm will give you the peace of mind to move forward and follow the necessary steps and requirements to adopt your stepchild.

If you are interested in adopting your stepchild in New Jersey, you can trust us as your law firm to support and guide you along the way. We invite you to give us a call at (732) 812-3102 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation.

Most Common Situations that Lead to Stepparent Adoption

There are three circumstances one typically sees when discussing stepparent adoptions. The first is when the stepparent takes over the role of the child’s birth parent who does want to care for the child, is unable to, or has been declared legally unfit as a parent. Another circumstance is when the stepparent’s spouse (child’s birth parent) dies, and the stepparent adopts the child. Occasionally, when the stepparent and birth parent divorce, the stepparent adopts their ex-spouse’s child.

Stepparent Adoption Route in New Jersey

To adopt a stepchild, the non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights. The stepparent will be fingerprinted and be the subject of a background check. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency will also conduct a brief investigation. After an adoption hearing, the stepparent and the child will have the same rights as though the relationship were biological.

Requirements that Stepparents Must Meet to Adopt

Firstly, there must be at least a ten-year difference between the adopting stepparent and the child who is being adopted. This requirement has been waived from time to time under exceptional circumstances. Also, children 12 years of age and older must write a testimony that they want to be adopted and are aware they will no longer have contact with their birth parents. Children the age of ten and up can offer consent to the adoption process.

Parental consent is the sticky wicket in this process. The non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights to allow the stepparent to proceed with the adoption. If the birth parent is in prison, has an addiction to mind-altering substances, is incarcerated, does not have a place to live, or there has been proven abuse of the child by the birth parent, those are supporting reasons their parental rights could be removed.

Once all requirements have been filled, a family court judge will receive the adoption case and approve or deny it. This is the step that determines if the adoption is granted or denied.

Parental Consent, a Critical Component of Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent adoptions require that both birth parents consent to the adoption, giving up their parental rights. Usually, the birth mother or father, one of the biological parents, is in the relationship and wants the stepparent to adopt their child. Getting consent from the non-custodial parent can be incredibly challenging. It can be worrisome for a parent to rescind their parental rights and responsibilities. They will have no say in their child’s future. Of course, if the parent hasn’t had a relationship with the child for many years, permission may be more readily obtained.

Proving Negligence if Consent of Both Parents is Not Granted in NJ

Stepparent Adoption Process in New JerseyIf one can prove neglect, abuse, or abandonment on the part of the non-custodial parent, losing their parental rights is much easier. If you can prove the parent is not the biological father, he would have parental rights. There are several statutes that allow for the adoption of children by their stepparents without actual parental consent. They all require the birth parent to be notified of the adoption with or without their consent, and it only takes one to favor the adoption.

If the birth parent has not communicated compellingly with their child in 12 months without justifiable cause, this will denote abandonment. Next, if the birth parent is involved in criminal activities, is chronic alcohol or drug abuser, or spends most of their time incarcerated, parental rights could be taken. Also, proven physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse, malnutrition, or neglect on the part of the natural parent to the child can cause them to lose their parental rights.

There are times when the birth parent contests the adoption process. The stepparent and their lawyer must compile evidence showing the birth parent’s consent are unnecessary. Meanwhile, the birth parent must establish a relationship with the child that cannot be lost to the adoption. If the judge accepts the stepparent’s case, the adoption is granted; if they get the birth parent’s case, it is denied. An appeal is possible for the losing side.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights for Stepparent Adoption

If a parent’s rights are terminated voluntarily, they relinquish their rights as a parent. When dealing with involuntary termination of parental rights, the parent and stepparent must petition the court to prove the other natural parent is unfit. This is frequently seen when they have been unable to steadily contact the parent, or there is no longer a relationship with the child. If the stepparent can show a profound and valued relationship with the child, involuntary termination is a strong possibility.

How Long is the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey?

It depends on many factors:  the availability of the court if the birth parent is contesting the adoption, if you can produce all requested documents expeditiously and with few complications, it could take three months, with more, 12 months or more.

Planning to Start the Stepparent Adoption Process in NJ? Contact our Offices in Brick and Sea Girt

If you or someone you know is going to adopt a stepchild, it is an excellent idea to depend on an attorney to guide you through the process, especially if you suspect you may have trouble in the area of parental rights. A lawyer on our team can explain the best way to handle any situation that may come up and ensure that everything is handled precisely along the way.

The Bronzino Law Firm is prepared to make the adoption of your stepchild a pleasant and memorable moment. We want to meet your growing family’s needs and enjoy nothing more than shaking hands and smiling for pictures when your adoption process has been completed in Asbury Park, Middletown, Manchester, Berkeley, Howell, Point Pleasant, Manalapan, and elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Call (732) 812-3102  or reach out online to discuss your individual adoption needs free of charge. Our job is to make your family’s dreams a reality.

Know the Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Refusing a Paternity Test in NJ

The process of determining paternity can be initiated by a man who believes they are the child’s father, the child’s mother or custodial parent, or the child whose paternity is in question.

Refusing a Paternity Test in NJ, Is It Possible?Paternity is who is legally the father of a child. In New Jersey, fatherhood is typically established when a man and a woman have been married for at least ten months before the child’s birth. If the parents are not married, they must complete a parentage certificate, identifying themselves as the mother and father of the baby. The certificate is then given to a birth certificate coordinator, who will file it with the Department of Health and request that a birth certificate be conferred.

Can a Father Legally Refuse a DNA Test in New Jersey?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is more complex. A complaint is submitted to identify the paternity of the child. Family Part Intake Service will establish a hearing. What happens when the supposed father does not appear or does not acknowledge paternity? In that case, Family Part Intake Service will schedule a hearing with the Child Support Hearing Officer, who will recommend to the court that both individuals take a DNA test. The tests are expected within ten days of submitting the test order. If the alleged father denies taking a paternity test, he can be charged with contempt of court, leading to fines and even a criminal charge. Most of the time, if the father refuses to take a DNA test, the court will assume that the test results would not have favored the father, which is why he refused the test.

Can You Be Forced To Take a Paternity Test?

No one can take a swab or blood sample from a person under duress. Everyone has complete autonomy over their own body.

Paternity Tests Options in New Jersey

There are a few types of paternity tests utilized in New Jersey. The most common is a blood test where the blood from the father, mother, and baby is analyzed to determine parenthood. This is called the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test and has an accuracy rate of 99.9%. The second is the CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling), which requires the insertion of a needle into the mother’s cervix to extract chorionic villi (tiny pieces of placental tissue containing the same genetic material as the fetus).

What If a Mother Refuses a Paternity Test?

Again, no one can be obligated to participate in genetic testing if they choose not to. Body autonomy comes first, but a man cannot be compelled to pay child support until paternity is proven, so it would behoove her to cooperate.

Possible Scenarios to Request A Paternity Test

A paternity test isn’t always requested by the mother alone. A man who believes he is the biological father or wants to disprove his paternity can request a trial. Someone who legally represents a child and can act on their behalf or a state social service agency investigating a problem with neglect. A child who is 18 years or older can also request a test.

Challenging Paternity in New Jersey

Paternity Lawyers in Monmouth County, NJAnyone involved in the paternity of a child can challenge the established paternity as long as it takes place before the child’s 23rd birthday. The person challenging a legal presumption of paternity must present clear and convincing evidence.

When the court requires DNA testing, several factors affect the decision. For example, the nature and length of the relationship between the child and the supposed father, the age of the child, any harm that would come to the child upon knowing paternity as other than what has been stated all along, how the acknowledged father’s realization of his non-paternity came about, and others.

The parties should focus on these factors in either seeking DNA testing or asking the court to deny DNA testing.

What Taking a Paternity Test can Offer the Child

A child with a mother and a father lives a more well-rounded experience, able to have a relationship with relatives from both sides of the family, creating a sense of identity not given when a parent is absent. Child support cannot be determined until paternity is established and necessary resources. Also, having access to their medical history is of utmost importance to their health. Many hereditary conditions can be prevented if they are recognized early. A father’s health plan, social security benefits, inheritance, or life insurance benefits a child when paternity is established.

Are You in the Midst of a Paternity Case? Contact our Knowledgeable Paternity Lawyers in Freehold and Toms River, NJ

Have you been boxed out by the mother of your child because she won’t acquiesce to a paternity test? Do you need someone on your side? If you have custody issues, need help with child support, or assistance to determine paternity, the Bronzino Law Firm can provide you with the service you need. From child custody agreements to paternity determinations, our years of experience put us in the perfect position to provide you with the representation you require.

Wills, living trusts, and inheritance can all be affected by a change in paternity, and you need to protect your family’s rights. Deciding paternity can be an emotional experience, and we are sensitive to your situation. Our well-versed family law team’s attorneys are ready to serve your needs, as we so often do for clients in Berkeley, Colts Neck, Rumson, Belmar, Manasquan, Freehold, Middletown, and towns and across Ocean and Monmouth County, and the Jersey Shore.

Contact us immediately to get started on your paternity case by calling us at (732) 812-3102 for your private, free consultation or reach us through our online contact form.

Becoming Educated on Sperm Donor Rights and Responsibilities in New Jersey

Many couples dream of having a family, but unfortunately, it isn’t always possible without medical intervention.

Sperm Donors & Parental Rights in NJSingle women, lesbian couples, or couples where the male partner is infertile seek alternative ways to get pregnant, and they all require a sperm donor. Recent technological advances have made what seemed to be science fiction a few decades ago a viable and reasonably common solution to establishing a family. In response to the ever-changing reproductive panorama, New Jersey legislators have had to run to catch up with the changing times, creating laws to protect parents, donors, and children in this process.

Do Sperm Donors Have Parental Rights in NJ?

The answer to this question is complicated because the answer could be affirmative or negative, given the situation. If the husband agrees to use a sperm donor whose identity is known or unknown, and the procedure is under the care of a licensed physician, the husband is the father of the child, and the donor has no parental rights. The physician completes a form that certifies the couple’s signed consent, and that form is submitted to the Department of Health. Suppose a single woman uses a sperm donor to conceive, as long as the procedure takes place in the office of a licensed physician and the donor doesn’t submit a written request to be named the biological father. In that case, he doesn’t have parental rights. Recently, there was a case where their sperm donor sued a married lesbian couple in Salem County for parental visitation of their child. They had drawn up a document stating that the sperm donor would take no parental part in the child’s life. Unfortunately, the document wasn’t worth the paper on which it was written because a licensed physician did not conduct the insemination procedure. The couple fought the decision claiming that as a married couple, the baby should be considered their biological child. In 2016, their original judgment was overturned, and the sperm donor was removed from the birth certificate. This decision was hailed as a massive win for the LGTBQ community.

Rules For Being A Sperm Donor in New Jersey

There are certain rules that need to be followed to become a sperm donor. Donors must be no younger than 18 and no older than 38. Sperm banks follow strict guidelines when selecting donors who have to complete an extensive medical history form and family history. Laboratory tests of blood, urine, and semen will be done to clear the donor for STDs, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and others. Semen will be collected to test for quantity, quality, and movement. Donors also undergo genetic testing to ensure there are no known genetic conditions and provide details regarding the medical history of at least two generations (grandparents) to determine the possibility of hereditary diseases. Some fertility clinics also do psychological evaluations to discuss any concerns or reservations donors may have. Lastly, each donor’s file usually includes a personal interview about interests, talents, education, and hobbies. Once the approval process is complete, the sperm donated by a candidate is frozen for six months while the second round of lab tests and another physical exam is done at around month 5.

Legal Responsibilities for NJ Sperm Donors

Sperm Donors, Parental Rights & Family Lawyers in Brick, NJThe most important responsibility of a sperm donor is honesty when completing the interviews and tests at the donor clinic and when signing any documentation regarding the relationship held between themselves and the recipients. Sperm donors cannot be married, and any deception that is later discovered could affect the baby’s parentage. For example, in the case of Rendon v. Ale, the court determined that the biological father was the legal parent of the resulting baby created from his sperm even though he had written a Resignation Letter of Obligations stating that he had no interest in the child. He and the child’s mother were in a relationship, even though they both were married to other people. They filled out two consent forms, and on both, they stated that they were not married to anyone. After several attempts, the Plaintiff became pregnant with twins. She and her husband separated, and she filed for child support from the Defendant (the sperm donor). He wanted to dismiss because he had resigned his rights as a parent during the insemination process; however, when the doctor testified that the couple had misled him, the judge granted child support for the Plaintiff saying the defendant wasn’t required to participate in the children’s lives if he saw fit, but he was required to provide for them to the tune of $1,000 per month.

How to Avoid Paternity Issues with Sperm Donorship in NJ

In a nutshell, to avoid sticky paternity situations, follow the rules. Don’t lie to the doctor who is caring for you about your relationship with your partner or a sperm donor (if you have chosen one directly). Don’t cut financial corners by conducting an insemination procedure without a doctor present. Most of all, hire a lawyer before you do anything.

Seek Legal Help from a Committed Parental Rights & Family Law Firm in Brick, NJ

It is always exciting to start a family, but sometimes plans get derailed due to infertility. Technology has advanced at a break-neck pace, and we can now receive treatments and procedures that were only dreamed of a few decades ago. If you consider being a sperm donor or looking at assisted reproduction, you now know your rights and responsibilities. Contacting an attorney is the next step in this process.

The Bronzino Law Firm provides its clients with exceptional, compassionate representation. You want to do things the right way following New Jersey Law to accomplish your dream of having a child. Our firm values each client and recognizes their unique needs. We serve individuals and families in Colts Neck, Jackson, Beach Haven, Toms River, and towns across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Contact our offices for your free and confidential consultation by calling (732) 812-3102 or requesting a free legal case evaluation by contacting us here. We are ready to help make your dreams come true.

How to Add the Father to a Child’s Birth Certificate in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ

Our family lawyers can help you navigate the process of adding a father’s name to a birth certificate in New Jersey, and offer critical information regarding determining paternity.

How to Add a Name to a Birth Certificate in NJ

In New Jersey, adding the name of the biological father to a child’s birth certificate is a direct procedure. To add a biological father’s name on a New Jersey birth certificate, three things must be provided by the mother to the Office of Vital Statistics within the New Jersey Department of Health (located in the state capital; alternatively, a mother can go to her child’s birth county’s Office of the Registrar). First, a mother must provide appropriate documentation. Required documents will be outlined later in the article. Second, a mother must provide proof that the person to be added to the birth certificate is the child’s biological father. Third, the mother must pay a fee. Refer to the section “What is the process for adding a name to a birth certificate?” for specific information about the birth certificate revision process.

Three Steps to Add a Father’s Name on a Birth Certificate in NJ

Signing the Birth Certificate and Establishing Paternity

For a father to be added to a child’s New Jersey birth certificate, there must be proof that that person is the biological father of the child. As such, as the biological father is named on the birth certificate, this is the establishment of proof of their paternity.

Providing Documentation Required to Add a Name to a Birth Certificate

The type of documentation required to add a paternal name to a child’s birth certificate depends on the mother’s partner status. One piece of documentation that is required regardless of circumstance is the Certificate of Parentage, which must be signed by both the biological mother and the biological father.

If a mother wishes to change the child’s surname to the biological father’s surname, she must submit a REG 60 form alongside other required documentation.

In addition to the signed Certificate of Parentage, additional documentation is required for changes to birth certificates. A signed Affidavit of Denial of Paternity must be submitted by the current or former spouse of a mother if they are not the biological parent of the child in question. An Affidavit of Denial of Paternity prevents the non-birth father from claiming paternity down the road. If the mother is no longer with this spouse, who, again, is not the biological father of the child in question, she must obtain a court order denying paternity from the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part, so this spouse is legally barred from claiming paternity in the future. If a mother marries someone after conception of the child, she must provide marriage documentation to the Office of Vital Statistics to prove that marriage occurred after the child was conceived, thereby releasing the current spouse from rights and responsibilities afforded to the biological father. If, however, the person the mother marries after conception of the child is the biological father, the mother must provide not only the marriage certificate showing that legal marriage occurred after conception of the child, but also a REG 35 form that allows the spouse to claim paternity.

Filing the Updated Birth Records in New Jersey

The Office of Vital Statistics within the New Jersey Department of Health is responsible for housing and updating birth records. All changes to a birth certificate must occur within the Office of Vital Statistics, either directly through their office in Trenton or via the county Office of the Registrar. A filing fee is required for completion of this process.

Pros and Cons of Changing a New Jersey Birth Certificate to Keep in Mind

There are a number of benefits to naming a father on a child’s birth certificate. First of all, a father’s parenting responsibilities will take effect, such as the requirement to provide child support. Additionally, a child can be covered under their parent’s health insurance and be a beneficiary of life insurance death benefits if they are named on the birth certificate.

On the other hand, there are some cons and difficulties associated with not having the biological father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. In addition to having responsibilities when named on the birth certificate, a father also enjoys certain rights, such as potential child custody and visitation rights. There are also cons to not naming a father — for example, certain registrations, including those for obtaining a passport, become more difficult when a father is not named on the birth certificate.

Is a Paternity Test Mandatory?

No paternity test is required to determine paternity for the purposes of adding a father’s name to a birth certificate; however, both biological parents must sign the Certificate of Parentage.

Amending a Birth Certificate in Ocean County NJHow Can a Lawyer Help with the Process of Amending a Birth Certificate?

Having the support of a parental rights lawyer can make a huge difference in the process of adding a father’s name to your child’s birth certificate. As noted, the addition of a biological father’s name means that they will enjoy certain rights and responsibilities that are likely of interest to you and certainly important for your child’s wellbeing. A talented family lawyer can help you walk through the somewhat complex and convoluted documentation provision process, depending on your circumstances.

Update Your Child’s Birth Certificate with Help from our Toms River Paternity Lawyers

Are you considering adding your name or your child’s biological father’s name to their birth certificate? At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we understand what a difference having both birth parents on a child’s birth certificate can make for their present and future. Our paternity and family lawyers have a long history of helping clients in Point Pleasant, Marlboro, Tinton Falls, Manalapan, and towns throughout Ocean and Monmouth County navigate the Office of Vital Statistics process to ensure that their children’s wellbeing is served.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or use our online form for a free and confidential consultation regarding your concerns about paternity and birth certificate issues in New Jersey.