How Do New Jersey Courts Decide Child Custody For Unmarried Parents?

There are few things more important to a parent than raising their child. However, if you were never married, yet you are separating from a partner with whom you have a child, your child’s well-being should be your utmost concern. Please continue reading and reach out to our experienced New Jersey family law attorney to learn more about how our firm can help you through the legal process going forward. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What do courts consider when deciding on child custody for unmarried parents?

Though in the past, New Jersey has had difficulties dealing with child custody matters for unmarried spouses, the court system has evolved in more recent years. Therefore, instead of entering standard divorce proceedings, you will enter what is known as a non-dissolution ‘FD’ case, since you were technically never married, to begin with. In this case, you may establish legal custody orders for a child under the age of 18, establish legal paternity over your child, enact spousal or child support agreements, and establish parenting time court orders for biological parents/visitation orders for grandparents and adult siblings.

What types of child custody are available to unmarried New Jersey parents?

There are three main types of child custody unmarried parents can reach. The first is joint legal custody. This means that though the child primarily resides with one parent, both parents still retain legal custody over the child, meaning they both have a say in where the child goes to school, the religion he/she practices, the types of medical treatment he/she is allowed to receive, and more. The second type of custody is known as joint custody, which means the child spends half of his/her time at both parents’ homes, and both parents share legal custody of the child as well. For many reasons, this is the preferred type of custody, however, both parents must live in close proximity, and be able to cooperate with one another for it to work.

The third type of child custody is called sole custody. This is when one parent has complete legal and physical custody of the child. Generally, this will only happen when one parent proves to be parentally unfit and/or pose a serious danger to the child’s well-being.

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Our firm proudly represents clients in New Jersey who are faced with matters of family law, criminal defense, business law, real estate law, or estate planning. If you require strong and dedicated representation for any of your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation.