The proliferation of genetic testing, where you buy a kit and then send away saliva or scrapings from your cheek, to get your genetic history has certainly lead to many unintended consequences. It is not hard to do a Google search and find stories of previously unknown siblings, or worse, someone who you thought was your biological parent, is not. A staff member of a well known radio show learned of several previously unknown siblings after doing a test.

I haven’t yet seen a case where this gave rise to an action to reverse a paternity finding, but I am sure that it is coming down the pike at some point. In fact, the impetus for this post is an unreported (non-precedential) Appellate Division decision released on October 7, 2022. In S.L.P. v. A.L.N., the parties were dating in 2011 when mom becomes pregnant and tells dad that he’s the father. Dad accepted her representation and his name was put on the child’s birth certificate. The relationship ended a month after the child was born. Dad lived in Texas but never visited or contacted the child, though he did pay child support but was in arrears ($18,000) when this matter came to court in 2021.

Dad moved to New Jersey in 2021 and the parties went to court on this matter for the first time. By consent, Dad was granted some parenting time. During his first and only visit, Dad took swab samples of himself and the child for a home DNA test. The test results showed that there was a “0% Probability” that he was the child’s biological parent.” Upon receiving this report, he sent it to mom and asked if there was any chance that someone else could be the father. She said no.

As a result, dad filed a motion seeking a paternity test through the court. Mom neither responded to the motion nor appeared. Dad testified that he suspected that he wasn’t the father after seeing pictures of the child on social media, so he took the home DNA test to confirm his suspicion. The trial court denied the request for a paternity test, claiming that it had no basis for the test because the child was 9 and that “This is something that should have been done many, many years ago and it wasn’t.” The trial court also noted that dad was, “to a certain degree, the psychological father” of the child even though the two had only had one visit together.

As expected, the Appellate Division reversed, agreeing that dad’s request for a paternity test should have been granted under the provisions of the Parentage Act, noting that the child’s age did not preclude dad from seeking a paternity test. The Appellate Division further noted that “Because defendant had only had one visit with the child since 2011, the record also does not support the court’s finding that defendant was the child’s “psychological father.” In a footnote, the Appellate Division further noted that the 11 part test established by the Supreme Court in D.W. v. R.W., 212 N.J. 232, 257 (2011) to determine whether good cause exists to grant or deny genetic testing did not need to be applied here because mom never opposed the motion.

If there is a takeaway from this case, if there is any doubt, it is better to conclusively establish paternity as early as possible.

Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Department of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Morristown, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or