Child Custody and Child Support for Unmarried Parents in Morris County
It is becoming more and more common for parents to raise children together while remaining unmarried. Sometimes these parents will take steps to formalize their relationship such as through a civil union or some kind of cohabitation agreement, however, just as with a divorce, if any of these “marital-style” relationships end, child custody, parenting time, and child support agreements may need to be reached between the co-parents.
In today’s article, we will discuss how unmarried parents can work to resolve child custody and visitation disputes, how child support is calculated and awarded between unmarried parents, any why it can be important to retain the counsel of an experienced Morristown family law attorney when working to resolve any of these issues.
East Hanover NJ Paternity Attorneys
Before an unmarried parent can pursue their parental rights to custody, visitation, or child support, legal paternity must first be established.
In a marriage, paternity of a child is automatically given to the father as long as the child is born during the marriage, or born at most 300 days after the marriage’s end or the death of the father.
However, in the case that the parents choose to remain unmarried, extra steps need to be taken in order for the father to be legally recognized as the father of a child. Specifically, paternity can be granted to an unmarried father by:
- the father acknowledging his paternity in writing to the New Jersey State Registrar
- the mother adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate
In the case that neither of these occur, one parent or the other will need to file a paternity case in court in order to establish the legal parenthood of an unmarried adult. At this point, most paternity cases are decided through DNA testing.
To summarize, in order for an unmarried father to pursue custody, visitation, or child support for their child, or for an unmarried mother to pursue child support for her child, legal paternity must first be established. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation, needs, and concerns with one of our experienced Morristown paternity attorneys.
Unmarried Parents – Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys Morris Plains NJ
As with any decision regarding child custody or parenting time in New Jersey, each parent is given equal standing and consideration when reaching a decision. This is because NJ family courts believe it is important for children to develop as strong a relationship as possible with each of their parents after a divorce, or following the dissolution of any kind of non-marital relationship.
Further, all child custody and visitation matters are decided based on what the courts believe to be in the best interests of the child or children involved. Of course, parents are free to create their own custody and visitation agreement outside of the courts (often with the help of an attorney or attorneys with strong negotiation skills), but such an agreement will only be considered legal and enforceable should a family court judge find that this agreement does in fact account for the child’s best interests.
If you are an unmarried parent who wishes to formalize a custody and visitation agreement with your co-parent, or are an unmarried parent being denied your custodial and parental rights, contact our Morris Plains custody and visitation attorneys to discuss your rights, legal options moving forward, and how exactly we can help you and your family.
Child Support for Unmarried Parents in Morris County
Child support is also a parental right (or obligation) when co-parents divorce, or live in separate households. The NJ Child Support Guidelines created a roughly standardized formula for calculating child support, which is largely based on two different factors:
- The income of each parent
- The number of overnights per year that the children are expected to spend with each parent (i.e. the parenting time arrangement / agreement)
So in the case where each parent earns roughly the same income, and spends roughly the same amount of time with the children, then direct child support from one parent to the other may not be necessary. On the other hand, if one parent earns significantly more than the other, or if the children spend more overnights with one parent or the other, then child support often needs to be determined.
Again, in order for any unmarried parent to seek child support from a co-parent, the father must be first legally recognized as the father (paternity), at which point the above-mentioned factors and formula will be used to calculate the child support obligation.
To learn more about securing child support for your children, modifying a child support agreement if circumstances have changed, or extending or terminating your child support agreement, contact our Morris County child support attorneys today.
Contact Our Morristown Unmarried Parent Custody and Support Lawyers Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents to create, modify, and enforce child custody and visitation agreements of all kinds in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Morris Plains, East Hanover, Madison, Randolph, Dover, Morristown and the surrounding communities.
Whether you are going through a divorce, or are an unmarried parent seeking to establish your parental rights, our unique approach to family law is ideally suited to helping you protect the emotional and financial stability of your entire family.
To speak with one of our attorneys today in a strategic planning session regarding any kind of child custody, parenting time, child support, or other family law issue you may be facing, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.