Unmarried Parents: Now What?

Unmarried Parents: Now What?

Breaking up is never an easy situation for any couple going through it. It can become even more difficult if the couple happens to be unmarried with a child or children.

Do you have rights to child custody even if you are not married? In the state of New Jersey, unmarried parents have the same custodial rights as married parents do. Parenting time, child support and custody all need to be determined in the same way as it is for a married divorcing couple. But how do you establish those parental rights?

Fathers MUST Establish Paternity for Custodial Rights

When you are unmarried with children, the father or mother needs to be assigned as the parent. Fathers especially need to be concerned of this, as in New Jersey the unmarried father has no rights to the child until paternity is established. The way to do this would be to have both parents agree on the identity of the blood-related parent and then that parent volunteering to accept the rights and responsibilities of that role. If there is more than one parent trying to claim custodial rights or the identity of the parent is unknown, DNA tests may be ordered to help establish paternity. If parental rights are not setup, it will make the fight for child custody, support and parenting time way more difficult. And if the other side is fighting against that claim, having a well-versed divorce lawyer will help protect you and fight for your rights in family court.

Once this is all said and done, the rights of the unmarried parent are the same as with a married parent. Custody, child support, parenting time and even parent relocation are all on the table to be discussed and ironed out in court. The court will decide based on the best interests and any special needs of the child.

To make sure you get what want, having an experienced child custody attorney on your side is critical.

If you or a loved one need to establish paternity or are dealing with child custody issues regarding an unmarried couple, give us a call. At the Law Office of Jennifer Marshall, Esq., we have represented families dealing with many various circumstances. We know that it is difficult. Don’t make it more of a burden than it needs to be.

Call us today and let us begin work on case.