A trial court does not have the jurisdiction to create a new recognition of legal parentage other than that which already exists — genetic contribution, adoption, or gestational primacy


Law Lessons from D.G. et al. v. K.S., __ N.J. Super. __ (Chan. Div. 2016), Ocean Cnty., Wauters, J.S.C., DOCKET NO. FD-15-1386-14-S, FEBRUARY 5, 2016:

A trial court does not have the jurisdiction to create a new recognition of legal parentage other than that which already exists — genetic contribution, adoption, or gestational primacy. Gestational primacy is irrelevant with a male.

N.J.S.A. 9:17-39 defines a “parent and child relationship” as used in that act as “the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s natural or adoptive parents, incident to which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. It includes the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship.” Moreover, N.J.S.A. 9:2-13(f) defines “parent” as “a natural parent or parent by previous adoption” when not otherwise described by the context.

In In re T.J.S., 419 N.J. Super. 46, 53-54 (App. Div. 2011), aff’d, 212 N.J. 334 (2012), the court ruled that legal parentage may be established in only three ways under the Parentage Act, N.J.S.A 9:17-39: “genetic contribution, gestational primacy, or adoption.” The court also found that the Parentage Act does not violate equal protection under Article I, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution because the distinctions drawn between an infertile husband and an infertile wife are grounded in actual reproductive and biological differences, which the Legislature may consider in defining alternative means of creating parenthood. In re T.J.S., supra, 419 N.J. Super. at 67.

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