The process for obtaining a certificate of parentage in New Jersey

Understanding Certificate of Parentage in New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, establishing paternity is a crucial step for a child born out of wedlock to gain legal recognition of their father. The Certificate of Parentage (COP) serves as an official document that acknowledges and establishes the legal relationship between a father and his child. This documentation is pivotal not just for the child's sense of identity, but also for matters such as inheritance rights, access to medical history, and eligibility for benefits like health insurance and child support.

Steps to Obtain a Certificate of Parentage

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment: Both parents can voluntarily sign the COP at the hospital or birthing center immediately after the child's birth. This is often the simplest route, as it does not require any additional steps once both parents agree.
  2. Filing with the State Registrar: If the COP is not signed at the hospital, it can be completed later by filing directly with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry. Parents will need to provide identification and may need to schedule an appointment.
  3. Local Welfare Agencies: In cases where either parent is receiving public assistance, local welfare agencies can assist in the process of obtaining a COP.
  4. Legal Action: If one parent is unwilling to acknowledge paternity voluntarily, the other parent may start a legal action. A court order or an Administrative Paternity Order after DNA testing can establish paternity.

Historical Context

The concept of legally recognizing parentage has evolved over time. Historically, children born out of wedlock faced significant societal stigma and were often denied legal recognition by their fathers. This led to numerous challenges regarding rights and inheritance. Over time, laws have changed to protect the rights of children regardless of their parents' marital status, reflecting a shift in societal values towards fairness and equality.

Impact on Families

The establishment of parentage has profound implications for families. For instance, in New Jersey, securing a COP ensures that a child can benefit from both parents' medical histories which is essential for comprehensive healthcare planning. Furthermore, it safeguards a child's right to receive financial support from both parents, which can be critical for their growth and development.


Securing a Certificate of Parentage in New Jersey is an important process that protects the rights and well-being of children born outside of marriage. By understanding the steps involved and utilizing available resources, parents can ensure that their child receives all the benefits and legal recognition that come with established paternity.