If I am Not and Have Never Been Married to my Co-Parent, Does that Affect my Ability to Seek Child Custody or Parenting Time?
For many different reasons, many New Jersey parents choose to remain unmarried when having children. Parents can sometimes be under the false impression that they must be married or at least have been married and then divorced in order to have full legal rights over their children. The fact of the matter is that co-parents share equal legal rights to child custody and parenting time of their children whether they are married, unmarried, or divorced.
The unmarried parent’s child custody attorneys of Jacobs Berger understand that for parents, there is nothing more important than taking care of their children. For this and many other reasons, we take pride in protecting the legal rights of mothers and fathers from Morris County towns including Morristown, Denville, Madison, Randolph, East Hanover, Florham Park, and across all of Northern New Jersey. Our firm is built on a foundation of open communication and amicable conflict resolution, but we will not hesitate to aggressively pursue all forms of legal action to secure your right to child custody and parenting time when necessary.
Call our office today to learn more about your child custody questions and concerns as an unmarried parent in a confidential and comprehensive case assessment with one of our qualified and experienced child custody attorneys.
Child Custody and Visitation Lawyers Discuss Unmarried Parents’ Rights
Our Madison child custody and visitation lawyers will often meet with parents who are concerned that because of their marital status, they will not be able to reach fair child custody or child support agreements. In reality, New Jersey law explicitly states the following:
All parents share the same rights to child custody, child support, and parenting time. Individuals who are married, are divorced, or are unmarried will all be viewed in the same way by the law.
Mothers and fathers share the same legal rights to child custody, child support and parenting time. Another common misconception is that mothers have a higher chance of retaining child custody or receiving child support. The legal system will not favor either gender, and both co-parents will receive equal consideration.
What is Considered When Determining Child Custody and Parenting Time?
Now that we understand that the marital status and gender of parents are not considered in child custody proceedings, our Morris County child custody attorneys will discuss some high-level considerations which may be involved in your case:
- The existing relationship between the child and each co-parent
- The ability of each co-parent to provide a safe, secure, and stable home
- Communication and cooperation habits of each co-parent when it comes to co-parenting
- Relationship between the child and any siblings or other family members who are living with either co-parent
- A history of domestic violence or other criminal past if one exists
- Financial and practical ability of each co-parent to care for a child
At the end of the day, the New Jersey Family Courts will consider the best interests of the child first and foremost. Judges are not interested in the marital status or other personal details of either co-parents’ lives so long as those factors do not impact the child.
Unmarried Parents Attorneys Define Paternity
One important factor not yet discussed is the idea of legal paternity in New Jersey. While mothers are granted automatic legal maternity when their biological child is born, unmarried fathers must legally show that they are the parent and are therefore entitled to equal child custody and child support consideration. There are three methods by which our Denville unmarried parents attorneys may be able to help you prove paternity:
The parents were married at the time of birth. For married couples, the husband is presumed to be the legal father of a child if that child is born during the marriage or within ten months of the marriage coming to an end due to divorce or death of the husband.
Both parents agree on the parentage of the child and sign a Certificate of Parentage. Unmarried parents may choose to sign a Certificate of Parentage, which is essentially an acknowledgment that both parents agree to the child’s parentage.
Either parent file a paternity suit. If unmarried parents are unable to agree on the father of a child, fathers, mothers, children, or other caretakers may petition the state through a formal paternity action. This will begin a legal process which may entail DNA testing.
Contact our Unmarried Parents’ Child Custody Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our unmarried parents’ child custody attorneys have extensive experience helping families resolve issues of child custody and parenting time in local Morris County communities and across Northern New Jersey. We believe that the “one-size-fits-all” approach of larger firms does nothing to solve the individual issues and concerns of the individual. That is why we take pride in offering creative, dynamic legal solutions that address your unique needs and strive to deliver the best results for you and your family.
If you have any questions regarding your legal standing as an unmarried parent in the child custody or child support process, please contact us online or call our Morristown, NJ office by dialing (973) 710-4366 today for a comprehensive and confidential case assessment.