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Legal Statutes: New Jersey

UPDATED February 3, 2016

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Article 10. Parentage

back to top9:17-43. Presumptions

a. A man is presumed to be the biological father of a child if:

(1) He and the child's biological mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment or divorce;

(2) Before the child's birth, he and the child's biological mother have attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and:

(a) if the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage, or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment or divorce; or

(b) if the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation;

(3) After the child's birth, he and the child's biological mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and:

(a) he has acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing filed with the local registrar of vital statistics;

(b) he has sought to have his name placed on the child's birth certificate as the child's father, pursuant to R.S.26:8-40; or

(c) he openly holds out the child as his natural child; or

(d) he is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary agreement or court order;

(4) While the child is under the age of majority, he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child;

(5) While the child is under the age of majority, he provides support for the child and openly holds out the child as his natural child; or

(6) He acknowledges his paternity of the child in a writing filed with the local registrar of vital statistics, which shall promptly inform the mother of the filing of the acknowledgment, and she does not dispute the acknowledgment within a reasonable time after being informed thereof, in a writing filed with the local registrar. If another man is presumed under this section to be the child's father, acknowledgment may be effected only with the written consent of the presumed father . Each attempted acknowledgment, whether or not effective, shall be kept on file by the local registrar of vital statistics and shall entitle the person who filed it to notice of all proceedings concerning parentage and adoption of the child, as provided in section 10 of P.L.1983, c. 17 (C.9:17-47) and pursuant to section 9 of P.L.1977, c. 367 (C.9:3-45).

b. A presumption under this section may be rebutted in an appropriate action only by clear and convincing evidence. If two or more presumptions arise which conflict with each other, the presumption which on the facts is founded on the weightier considerations of policy and logic controls. The presumption is rebutted by a court order terminating the presumed father's paternal rights or by establishing that another man is the child's biological or adoptive father.

c. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, in an action brought under this act against the legal representative or the estate of a deceased alleged father, the criteria in paragraphs (4) and (5) of subsection a. of this section shall not constitute presumptions but shall be considered by the court together with all of the evidence submitted. The decision of the court shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence.

d. In the absence of a presumption, the court shall decide whether the parent and child relationship exists, based upon a preponderance of the evidence.

e. There is a rebuttable presumption that a man has knowledge of his paternity and the birth of a child if he had sexual intercourse with the biological mother within 300 days of the child's birth. This presumption may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence in an appropriate action based on fraud, duress, or misrepresentation by the biological mother concerning the paternity or birth of the child. This claim of fraud, duress, or misrepresentation must be asserted prior to the finalization of the adoption.
L.1983, c. 17, § 6, eff. May 21, 1983. Amended by L.1998, c. 20, § 4, eff. Sept. 11, 1998.