The New Jersey Legislature has recognized that biology is not always controlling in the area of parentage and has created statutory exceptions to the presumption that the biological father has parental rights in the area of artificial insemination

Law Lessons from Alba Rendon v. Carlos Ale, FD-09-000348-12, MARYBETH ROGERS, J.S.C., Hudson Co., January 28, 2013:

Under The Uniform Parentage Act of 1983, a man is presumed to be the biological father of a child if:

[T]here is a rebuttable presumption that a man has knowledge of his paternity and the birth of a child if he had sexual intercourse with the biological mother within three-hundred (300) days of the child’s birth. This presumption may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence in an appropriate action based on fraud, duress, or misrepresentation by the biological mother concerning the paternity or birth of the child.

N.J.S.A. 9:17-43(e).

The purpose of the Uniform Parentage Act is to establish the principle that regardless of the marital status of the parents, all children and parents have equal rights with respect to each other and to provide a procedure to establish parentage in disputed cases. Fazilat v. Feldstein, 180 N.J. 74, 82 (N.J. 2004) (quoting Assembly Judiciary, Law, Public Safety and Defense Committee, Statement to Senate Bill No. 88, at 1 (Oct. 7, 1982). The Act helps families with problems posed by fathers who seek to avoid paying child support. Id. at 82.

The parental rights of the biological father are presumptively established by the father’s genetic relationship to the child under N.J.S.A. 9:17-41(b). [1] E.E. v. O.M.G.R., 420 N.J. Super. at 288. However, the New Jersey Legislature has recognized that biology is not always controlling in the area of parentage and has created statutory exceptions to the presumption that the biological father has parental rights in the area of artificial insemination. Id. at 288.

The statutory exception to the paternity presumption that deals directly with artificial insemination states in pertinent part:

Unless the donor of semen and the woman have entered into a written contract to the contrary, the donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the father of a child thereby conceived and shall have no rights or duties stemming from the conception of a child.

N.J.S.A. 9:17-44(b).

The New Jersey Supreme Court has consistently held that the best indicator of legislative intent are the plain words of the statute. Hardy ex rel. Dowdell v. AbdulMatin, 198 N.J. 95, 101 (2007). In reviewing the statutory language, courts should “ascribe to the statutory words their ordinary meaning and significance, and read them in context with related provisions so as to give sense to the legislation as a whole.” DiPropero v. Penn, 183 N.J. 477, 492 (2005).

The leading case in this state that deals with the Artificial Insemination Statute is E.E. v. O.M.G.R. 420 N.J. Super. 283. In that case, a single woman wanted to have a child but did not want the expense of purchasing sperm from a sperm bank. Id. at 285. Rather, she secured her friend to donate his sperm and after the donation was given to the mother, she inseminated herself. E.E. 420 N.J.Super. Id. After the birth of the child, the mother sought to terminate the rights of the father. Id. at 286. The court denied the mother’s motion to terminate the father’s parental rights and reasoned that since the parties failed to comply with a provision of the statute by failing to use a licensed physician, they could not avail themselves of the protection of the statute. Id. at 293-294.

It is a well-established principle of contract law that to constitute a binding contract in such circumstances the proposition of one party must be met by an acceptance of the other. Trustees of First Presbyterian Church v. Howard Co. Jewelers, 12 N.J. 410, 413-414 (quoting 1 Williston on Contracts, § 28; Restatement of the Law of Contracts, §§ 25, 26).

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  1. [The parent and child relationship between a child and] [t]he natural father, may be established by proof that his paternity has been adjudicated under prior law; under the laws governing probate; by giving full faith and credit to a determination of paternity made by any other state or jurisdiction, whether established through voluntary acknowledgement or through judicial or administrative processes; by a Certificate of Parentage . . . that is executed by the father, including an unemancipated minor, prior to or after the birth of the child, and filed with the appropriate State agency; by default judgment or order of the court; or by an order of the court based on a blood test or genetic test that meets or exceeds the specific threshold probability . . . creating a rebuttable presumption of paternity. E.E. v. O.M.G.R. 420 N.J. Super. 283, 288. []