In a contested paternity matter, the law in New Jersey provides that a genetic test shall be ordered if the requesting party submits an affidavit establishing a reasonable probably of the requisite sexual contact between the parties for paternity. Essentially, that means a sworn statement must be submitted stating that the parties had sexual intercourse roughly nine months before the child was born. If the affidavit is submitted, the test should be ordered by the court unless the other party opposes the application and provides a “good cause” reason as to why the test should not be ordered. The paternity statute does not define good cause so the Supreme Court, in the case of D.W. v. R.W, 212 N.J. 232 (2012) defined good cause. Pursuant to the New Jersey Supreme Court, good cause to grant or deny a genetic test is as follows:
- the length of time between the proceeding to adjudicate parentage and the time that the presumed or acknowledged father was placed on notice that he might not be the genetic father;
- the length of time during which the presumed or acknowledged father has assumed the role of father of the child;
- the facts surrounding the presumed or acknowledged father’s discovery of his possible non-paternity;
- the nature of the relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father;
- the nature of the relationship between the child and any alleged father;
- the age of the child;
- the degree of physical, mental, and emotional harm that may result to the child if presumed or acknowledged paternity is successfully disproved;
- the extent to which the passage of time reduces the chances of establishing the paternity of another man and a child-support obligation in favor of the child;
- the extent, if any, to which uncertainty of parentage exists in the child’s mind;
- the child’s interest in knowing family and genetic background, including medical and emotional history; and
- other factors that may affect the equities arising from the disruption of the father-child relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father or the chance of other harm to the child.
There are a myriad of factors at play in a contested paternity matter. If a person is contesting submitting to a paternity test, it is their burden to establish one of the factors listed above. Regardless of if you are the one requesting or opposing a genetic test, it is therefore important to speak with an experienced attorney if you have a contested paternity case.