The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh, L.L.C., recently won an appeal reversing a lower court ruling that New Jersey has personal jurisdiction to impose child support and establish paternity over an alleged father. In a published decision, the court reversed the lower court’s ruling. This resulted in our client not having to deal with presumptive paternity and child support issues in New Jersey from his home country in Argentina.
What was the case about?
A mother tried to establish paternity and get child support for her child in New Jersey after a consensual encounter in New York between the woman and our client, who resides in Argentina. A paternity and child support case was filed in Washington, D.C., where the alleged dad previously lived. This case was later dismissed by the mother.
The woman then filed a paternity and child support case in New Jersey, where she lived. The alleged dad, our client, did not live or work in New Jersey, nor did he have any other meaningful contact with the state. The alleged dad never received notice of the lawsuit and was not at the hearing. Notwithstanding, and without his participation, the court imputed our client with paternity and imposed child support obligations.
The alleged dad was back living in Argentina when he learned of the paternity and child support decision against him in New Jersey. He hired our law firm to promptly request that the New Jersey Family Court dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and lack or insufficiency of service of process.
Appealing the court decision
The New Jersey Family Court denied our request to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. We immediately requested a stay of the decision so we could ask a higher court to hear an appeal. This type of request, an appeal, is usually not considered until the matter is completely decided. However, the New Jersey Family Court granted our request for a stay, and the appellate court granted leave to appeal even though there remained undecided issues in the Family Division.
In deciding the appeal, the appellate court reversed the family court ruling that New Jersey has personal jurisdiction over our client to impose child support and establish paternity. As a result, the alleged father will not have to deal with presumptive paternity and child support issues in New Jersey from his home country of Argentina.
How this ruling could impact future cases involving paternity and child support in New Jersey
Attorney Rajeh A. Saadeh said, “We are grateful for the appellate court’s decision, which not only corrected an obvious mistake by a family court judge, but vindicated our client’s right to not have to deal with legal issues involving his alleged fatherhood in New Jersey, thousands of miles from his home, and to which he has practically no connection. Any rights of the child can still be vindicated in a more appropriate forum while simultaneously providing due respect to the legal rights of the father, all of which is consistent with New Jersey law and policy, as well as the Constitution.”
Published decisions like this one are presidential and binding law. Congratulations to attorneys Rajeh A. Saadeh and Lindsay McKillop of the firm for their excellent performance during this case and on appeal.