Kim Kardashian’s recent announcement of her pregnancy with Grammy winner Kanye West’s baby has been all over the news over the last few weeks. It has gotten almost as much attention as her 72-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries that is still tied up in divorce proceedings. Kim may have no doubt that Kanye is the baby’s father, but it may not be that simple. In New Jersey, when a child is conceived during a marriage—even one where the spouses were only married 72 days and have been separated 6 times as long—there is a presumption that the husband is the parent of the child. Legally speaking, Kris could potentially make Kim’s life that much more difficult by claiming paternity of her baby and forcing her to produce proof (such as a genetic test) to refute his claim.
Typically, it is the supposed father, not the mother that is trying to rebut the presumption of paternity. Most commonly, a woman has a child and identifies someone as the child’s father, often by listing that person’s name as the father on the child’s birth certificate. Sometimes the alleged father knows and consents to this, believing they are the child’s father, but in some instances, the father is identified without the man even knowing there was a pregnancy. Until recently, New Jersey law made it very difficult for a presumed father to dispute paternity and get genetic testing, heavily favoring the child’s best interest not to be deprived of a father, and requiring the presumed father to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that such testing was in the child’s best interests.
However, in a landmark decision in October 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the standard for obtaining genetic testing by a presumed father. In D.W. v. R.W., the Supreme Court held that if a party to a paternity action requests genetic testing and submits a sworn statement to the Court establishing a reasonable possibility that he is or is not the father of a child, the court must order the genetic testing unless the party opposed to the testing presents good cause for not ordering the test. A “good cause” determination is based upon a case-by-case analysis of 11 factors. This is a tremendous departure from the prior law. Now, a presumed father must only show a “reasonable possibility” that they may or may not be the father. Then, the burden shifts to the party opposing the test to prove a “good cause” reason to deny the testing by providing an analysis of the 11 factors. While the child’s best interests is still a key issue to be considered, it is no longer dispositive in and of itself.
If you have any questions about paternity, contact Adinolfi & Packman for professional, trusted, experienced family law lawyers who can assess your paternity case. We understand that questions of paternity can be complex – both legally, financially and emotionally – and can provide sound guidance and support. Call our Haddonfield, New Jersey family law office today at 856-428-8334 to schedule an appointment or contact us online. Our family law attorneys are well-known and respected throughout New Jersey, particularly the South Jersey communities of Camden County, Burlington County, Salem County, Gloucester County and Cumberland County.
Julie Freeman-Burick, Esq., Haddonfield, New Jersey family law attorney at Adinolfi & Packman is dedicated to providing legal representation in all areas of matrimonial law ranging from simple to complex divorce negotiations, child custody & visitation matters, as well as parenting time agreements and child support.