Frequently Asked Questions

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Certificate of Parentage

Where can I go to fill out a Certificate of Parentage?
Parents are encouraged to complete the Certificate of Parentage form at the hospital. However, after the birth the Certificate of Parentage can be completed with the local registrar or the local County Welfare Agency. Click here to find lists of Local Registrars and County Welfare Agencies. Paternity can be established up until the child’s 23rd birthday.
The father is out of state and won't be able to sign the Certificate of Parentage with me. Can I send it to him?
Yes. Please contact your local registrar for information on how you can send the Certificate of Parentage to him. Click here to find a list of Local Registrars.
What happens if the father does not sign the Certificate of Parentage?
Both biological parents are required to sign the Certificate of Parentage in order for the document to be valid. If both parents do not sign, then paternity cannot be established so the father’s name will not go on the birth certificate, and the child will have no legal father at that time. However, the parents may choose to establish paternity at a later time.
What if I change my mind after I sign the Certificate of Parentage?
The Certificate of Parentage is considered a "legal document" in the State of New Jersey from the time that it is witnessed, even if it is not yet filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. If both parents change their mind within 60 days, they can rescind (cancel) the Certificate of Parentage. This process removes the man as the legal father of the child.

Recision forms are available through the local registrar. They can be completed and signed in front of any notary public. Once a recision is filed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the requirements of the recision are met, Vital Statistics will track the recision for 60 days and remove the father’s name from the child’s birth certificate at that time. Click here to find a list of local registrars.

Upon the expiration of the 60-day recision period, a verified voluntary acknowledgement of paternity may be challenged in court "upon a finding that there exists clear and convincing evidence of fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger." (N.J.S.A. 26:3-28.1, Section 9:17-41(b))

If only one of the parents wants to rescind a certificate, an action must be filed with the court.
Can the parents complete a Certificate of Parentage if neither one is a U.S. citizen?
Yes, as long as the child was born in New Jersey, the parents can sign a Certificate of Parentage form to acknowledge Paternity.
If the parents sign the Certificate of Parentage, does the father have the right to take the child away from the mother?
If a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother is the sole custodial parent and legal guardian of the child unless there is a court order granting custody to another party. After the parents establish paternity, the father may petition the court for visitation or for custody. If you have additional questions, please seek the counsel of an attorney.
If the parents sign the Certificate of Parentage, will the Child Support Office start to collect support?
Establishing paternity is not the same as establishing a child support order. The Certificate of Parentage in and of itself does not mean that child support will be collected. A child support order may be established if one of the parties files a complaint with the court or if the custodial parent is receiving certain types of public assistance. Remember that both parents have a duty to provide for their child.
How can I obtain a copy of the Certificate of Parentage for my child?
You may request a copy of the Certificate of Parentage by calling the POP office at 1-800-767-6607. Parents will be required to provide specific information regarding their identity and the child’s name and birth information as recorded on the COP in order to obtain a copy of the form.
I, or the father of my child, is under the age of 18. Can we sign the Certificate of Parentage form?
Yes. Minor parents, under the age of 18, have the right to establish paternity for their child and can sign the Certificate of Parentage form to acknowledge paternity. A minor’s parent or guardian signature is not required in lieu of, or in addition to, the minor’s signature.

Genetic Testing

How do I get genetic testing?
Unmarried parents may obtain genetic testing through the local County Welfare Agency. The Agency will either schedule a test at a local genetic testing facility or some offices can also provide on-site genetic testing. After receiving a positive genetic test result, the County Welfare Agency will pursue an order for paternity establishment or attempt to have the parties sign a Certificate of Parentage. Click here for a list of New Jersey County Welfare Agencies.
How much does genetic testing cost?
When involved, the local County Welfare Agency pays for the genetic test initially, but may request reimbursement at a later date. You should discuss this with the County Welfare Agency. Click here for a list of New Jersey County Welfare Agencies.
We’re not sure if he’s the father, but he wants to be on the birth certificate. What should we do?
If either parent is unsure if a man is the father of the child, they should consider pursuing genetic testing. The Certificate of Parentage should not be used unless both parents are certain that the man listed on the form is the biological father.
How old does my child need to be to have genetic testing?
Genetic testing can be performed on children as young as newborns by utilizing a buccal swab test, which takes a sample from the inside of the cheek instead of a blood sample.
The father is out of state. How can we get genetic testing?
The mother can contact the County Welfare Agency in her county for assistance in obtaining genetic testing when the father lives out of state. Click here for a list of New Jersey County Welfare Agencies.

Special Situations

The father is taking care of the child but has not been legally established as the father. The mother is not available to sign the Certificate of Parentage. How can he establish paternity?
The Certificate of Parentage is a voluntary form to be completed by both biological parents. If either parent is unavailable or unwilling to sign the Certificate of Parentage, the other parent may file a complaint with the court to pursue paternity establishment. Click here for a list of New Jersey local Family Divisions.
The father is deceased. How can I prove that he is the father?
It is possible to establish paternity of a deceased individual primarily through testing relatives. You can contact your local County Welfare Agency to see if they can assist you, though you may need to pursue the matter through court. Click here to find a list of local County Welfare Agencies.
I am legally married but my husband is not the biological father. The biological father is here and he wants to be on the birth certificate. What do we do?
In New Jersey, when a woman is married at the time of the child’s birth or conception, or any time in between, the law considers her husband to be the “presumed father”, even if he is not the biological father. If all three parties (mother, husband, and child’s biological father) are willing, the husband and the mother can first complete the Affidavit of Denial, which denies that the husband is the biological father of the child. Next, the mother and biological father would complete the Certificate of Parentage to establish paternity. If these forms are completed at the hospital, the biological father’s name will appear on the birth certificate. If they are done subsequently, the birth certificate must be amended as it would list the husband as the biological father. These forms can be completed at the birth facility, the county welfare agency or a local registrar office. Click here for a list of New Jersey County Welfare Agencies and click here for local registrars.