Unmarried Parents’ Rights in New Jersey
Family Law Attorney Serving Hackensack, Teaneck, Paramus, Fort Lee, and throughout New Jersey
Parents who have a child with an individual to whom that are not married have a unique legal challenge when it comes to child support and child custody litigation. Although parents who were married and subsequently divorce are required to settle these issues during the divorce process and/or through post-divorce modifications, it is not as straightforward for unmarried parents. In many cases, paternity may need to be established before seeking child custody, parenting time, or child support orders form the court. Even in cases where paternity has been already been established, parents may have significant conflicts over issues such as where the child will live, how he or she will be financially supported, and who has the right to make significant decisions about how the child is raised.
At The Elfant Rickett Law Firm, we understand the emotional toll that these issues can take on you and your family. Our team, headed by New Jersey family law attorney Rosa Rickett, will guide you through this process and make sure that your constitutional rights related to your biological child are protected and recognized by your child’s other parent. We recognize and represent the fact that your child is half you, and we will make sure that the Court protects your rights as a parent. If you are an unmarried parent facing a legal issue related to your child in New Jersey, contact our offices in Hackensack to schedule a consultation with a Bergen County family lawyer who can help. We can be reached anytime at 201.968.5700 or fill-out our online contact form.
Legal Issues for Unmarried Parents in New Jersey
Umarried parents in New Jersey share the same rights to custody and support as married or divorced parents; however, they often face certain issues when attempting to assert these rights. The following are the most common matters that must be resolved between unmarried parents in New Jersey.
In order for a mother to pursue child support from her child’s father, or for a father to request visitation or custody of his children, paternity must be established. If both parents agree about who the child’s father is, this can be voluntarily documented at the local Registrar’s office and the parents can proceed to addressing other matters such as child support and child custody. In other cases where a child’s paternity is in dispute, either parent can request court-ordered genetic testing to confirm or rule out the man as the father of the child.
If a man is confirmed as the father of a child, he is entitled to the same visitation and custody rights as the mother of the child, as is applied in cases of divorcing parents. In other words, the father of a child in New Jersey has the same rights to visitation, sole, or shared custody as the child’s mother. Of course, if parents disagree about custody or parenting time matters, these issues may need to be resolved in court. Also, if one parent is seeking to relocate out-of-state, this may give rise to disagreements requiring legal action.
New Jersey law requires that both parents share in the financial responsibility associated with raising their child, so both the mother and the father must pool their economic resources in the same way a married couple would. This is accomplished through child support payments, which are determined per the calculations contained in New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines. As an unmarried mother, you are entitled to pursue child support enforcement proceedings if your child’s established father fails to provide the payments contained in your child support order. If you have yet to obtain a child support order, you can do so after establishing the child’s paternity.
In New Jersey, parenting decisions often overlap with child custody matters. Specifically, New Jersey has two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is rather self-explanatory, as it refers to the child’s primary residence and the parent with whom they spend the most time. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the power to make significant decisions about the child’s welfare and how he or she is raised. As an unmarried parent, you may want to assert some control over your child’s education, medical treatment, religious upbringing, or even their last name. You also have the right to spend some holidays and occasions with them if you so choose and to have them spend time with your family. In order to assert these rights, it may be necessary to take legal action.
Contact a Bergen County Lawyer for Unmarried Parents Today
If you are an unmarried parent in New Jersey and you are seeking to assert or protect your parental rights, the Elfant Rickett Law Firm can help. From our offices in Hackensack, we assist clients with child custody, support, and parenting matters in Bergen County and throughout the state, including in Paramus, Fort Lee, Rutherford, North Arlington, Elmwood Park, and Bergenfield. Contact us today to discuss your specific situation and find the answers you need: 201.968.5700.