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Passaic County Board of Social Services v. E.T.

July 28, 2010

PASSAIC COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, AND K.W., PLAINTIFF,
v.
E.T., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FD-16-0594-97.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 24, 2010

Before Judges Rodríguez and Chambers.

On July 15, 1996, appellant E.T. signed a consent order with the Passaic County Board of Social Services (PCBSS) and the birth mother K.W., acknowledging his paternity of S.T., a boy born on November 5, 1994. On the same date, he signed another consent order with the same parties agreeing to submit to genetic testing with respect to E.T., Jr., a boy born on November 20, 1993. The genetic testing excluded appellant as the biological father of E.T., Jr. As a result, appellant was relieved of all financial obligations to E.T., Jr. Based on the order acknowledging paternity of S.T., the court set a temporary support order of $25 per week, payable to the PCBSS because K.W. and S.T. were recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). A permanent order of $85 per week in support was entered following an income verification investigation.

Eight years later, in November 2004, appellant moved to:

(1) disestablish his paternity of S.T.; (2) obtain genetic testing regarding S.T.; and (3) vacate all support orders and arrears for S.T. PCBSS opposed the motion. K.W. certified that E.T. was the birth father of S.T. and held himself out as such and maintained a close relationship with the boy. K.W.'s mother and sister submitted certifications corroborating this evidence.

On January 23, 2009, after several procedural mishaps, Judge George F. Rohde, Jr., denied appellant's motion. E.T. now appeals from the denial of his motion. We affirm.

On appeal, appellant seeks "enforcement of [his] right for DNA testing of paternity of [S.T.], [and] based upon law and good cause and [this] should not be denied." We are not persuaded by this argument.

At the outset, we reject appellant's assertion that he was genetically excluded as S.T.'s father at the same time that he was so excluded as E.T., Jr.'s father. The assertion is belied by the record. Appellant did not seek genetic testing of S.T. Instead, he did the opposite by acknowledging paternity. This acknowledgement meets the requirements set by 42 U.S.C.A. § 666. The statute requires that a notice be given orally and the writing which shows the obligations, rights and consequences of the acknowledgement of paternity. 42 U.S.C.A. § 666 (a)(5)(c). Once paternity is acknowledged, the consent order addresses the obligations of paying child support. The transcript shows that appellant did not question paternity for S.T. The record makes clear that appellant understood that he was not the father of E.T., Jr., and paternity of that boy was being excluded.

We reject appellant's contention that the order acknowledging paternity was invalid because K.W. did not sign it. 42 U.S.C.A. § 666 does not require the signature of the biological mother to establish paternity in a consent order.

Moreover, appellant has not offered any evidence why his acknowledgment should be invalidated. A motion pursuant to Rule 4:50-1 is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, whose determination will be left undisturbed unless it results from a clear abuse of discretion. Housing Authority of Morristown v. Little, 135 N.J. 274, 283-84 (1994). Finality of judgments is an important goal, as well as judicial efficiency. Hodgson v. Applegate, 31 N.J. 29, 35 (1959).

Here, appellant has failed to demonstrate any abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying his motion. Indeed, in subsequent motions, appellant has not demonstrated any abuse of discretion by the trial court, nor expressed a ...


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