With the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, New Jersey law has now extended many of the rights of heterosexual couples to same-sex couples. Among these rights is the right of both partners to both become legal parents of a child.
According to New Jersey law, under Title Nine, the state may presume parentage for same-sex couples similarly to heterosexual couples. However, same-sex parental rights still face a greater degree of vulnerability. It is typically a good idea to seek legal status as a parent to protect your rights before facing a parentage dispute.
Presumption of parentage
New Jersey assumes parentage for natural mothers who birth a child, but others may also receive the presumption of parental rights. For example, if the mother is married or in a civil union, the partner typically receives the presumption of parentage under the law. The same applies if a DNA test shows a parental relationship, or if the parents have entered into a written agreement together to undergo artificial insemination as co-parents. Simply putting your name on the birth certificate, raising a child, or financially supporting a child as though it were your own can garner you parental rights.
Establishment of parentage
While the presumption of parentage can be sufficient if it never comes into dispute, it is vulnerable if it does. Legally establishing parentage can protect your rights if they ever come into question. In New Jersey, one way to establish parentage is with a voluntary acknowledgment via a Certificate of Parentage. If the other parent does not contest the acknowledgment with convincing evidence, New Jersey law will typically recognize a reasonable acknowledgment.
However, even less vulnerable to dispute is a legal adoption or court ruling. Obtaining an adoption order is one of the most sound means of establishing parentage. Valid surrogate or gestational agreements that include both of the intended parents are also sturdy means of establishing parentage in New Jersey.