The end of a marriage can be a difficult pill to swallow, but things can get even more bitter when you start paying child support for a child that is not even yours. The main question that people ask at this point is whether they really have to go through with these payments in the state of New Jersey. How can this be legal?
The answers to these questions are somewhat complex. In the end, your specific situation will determine whether these payments are necessary. New Jersey law is a little vague when it comes to this matter, and in the end, the most important thing is how the word “father” is actually defined in the legislation. In short, you may be ordered to pay child support, even if you and the child are unrelated.
The first step is to prove that you are biologically unrelated to the child or children in question. In most cases, the court will simply assume that you are the biological father and proceed as usual, leaving you to pay child support payments as if you were the real father. This means that it is your responsibility to organize some kind of paternity test that shows you and the child are not connected by blood.
It is imperative that you act quickly in this scenario. The court will only give you a short window of time to come forward with your evidence and make it known that you are not related to the children of your former spouse. Connecting with a qualified attorney is the best way to complete this process in a timely and accurate manner.
The Biological Father
According to New Jersey state law, the biological father always bears the full weight of financial responsibility when it comes to supporting his children. A stepfather may only be ordered to pay child support if the biological father is completely out of the picture. Perhaps he has passed away, or his identity is unknown. If possible, you and your attorney may be able to track down the biological father or at least prove his existence. This could help your case.
When is a Non-Biological Father Financially Responsible?
Non-biological fathers are required to pay child support when they are considered “in loco parentis.” This legal definition of this Latin term is essentially when a parent functions “in place” of a real parent, bearing the full legal responsibility of such a position. So, when does a father fall into this category? This is one of the vaguest parts of New Jersey family law, but there are a number of actions you can take that makes you “in loco parentis:”
- You have prevented the children from seeing their biological father
- You have prevented the father from sending financial support to the children
- You have supported the children financially over the years
- You have developed a close bond with the children over many years
- The children see you as their “real” father
In general, the most important factor here is whether the children are “emotionally and financially dependent” on you as a parent. Contact Child Support Attorney in NJ to get any legal help with these matters.
You may have noticed that many of these factors are completely subjective in nature. For example, how can you quantify how emotionally dependent a child is? Can you really determine whether or not a child sees you as their “real” father? This is exactly why it is so important to enlist help from an expert attorney who can lay out your case in a clear, concise, and calculated manner.
Getting Legal Help
If you need legal help with these matters, reach out to Giro, LLP, Child Support Attorney in NJ, and we can help you move forward in a fair, dignified manner.