The fact pattern in M.M. v. M.G., a case decided last month by the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, was one that is not very common but has occurred before.
In this recent case, the husband had agreed to pay his wife child support for two children in the parties’ 1999 New Jersey divorce. The youngest of those children was 5 years old at the time of the divorce.
Ten years later in 2009, when that child was 15 years old, a family friend informed the husband that he had obtained a DNA test and that he—not the husband—was the biological father of that child.
What were the husband’s rights?
In this case, the Appellate Division concluded—correctly– that the trial court had been wrong not to give the husband a “plenary hearing” (with the opportunity to present testimony) on his application to disestablish paternity of the child.
In October 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court made it clear in a case called D.W v. R.W. that, as long as a person in the husband’s position can show a “reasonable possibility” that someone else is the child’s biological father, under the New Jersey Parentage Act (N.J.S.A. 9:17-38) he is entitled to genetic testing unless the other party can show “good cause” why this should not happen.
What about child support? Although the husband in this case had not yet done so, in a 1997 case called R.A.C. v. P.J.S., Jr., the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized that a person in his position is clearly entitled to file suit against the biological father, seeking reimbursement of the child support that he has already paid.
Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Divorce and Family Law matters, including issues relating to paternity and child support. If you want to talk, please call us at 973-855-3595 or fill out the Contact Form on our website.