Parental Rights and Obligations in New Jersey
There are legal rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent in New Jersey. When disputes arise, they are ultimately resolved through the court system if the parties cannot come to an agreement. If you have important questions regarding your parental rights and obligations in New Jersey, reach out to an experienced child custody attorney today. Our dedicated legal team has extensive knowledge of New Jersey child custody laws and can help you better understand your circumstances before pursuing any necessary legal action.
Custody, Visitation, and Parenting Agreements
For many individuals, the most important aspects of parental rights include custody of and visitation with their minor children. Whether parents are divorcing or were never married to begin with, the courts must ultimately make determinations on child custody and visitation.
This process is typically handled through something known as a “parenting agreement.” If both parents can agree on how they would like to divide parenting time with their child, the court is likely to follow their wishes and sign off on the agreement. However, the judge is not obligated to agree with the parents, even if both parties propose the same parenting agreement. The judge’s ultimate responsibility is to act in the child’s best interest when making these decisions.
Types of Custody
When the court awards custody, it could give parents either joint or sole custody of the child. Joint custody is shared between parents. Sole custody is awarded to only one parent. There are also two forms of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions involving the child’s life, including issues of healthcare and education. Physical custody indicates where the child will live.
It is important to remember that a parent’s right to custody is not predetermined by their gender. While many believe that mothers are given preference in child custody cases, that is not the case under the law. Both parents have the right to seek custody, and the courts should not take gender into account when reaching a decision.
Determining Parental Rights through a Paternity Action
The courts will only formally recognize the rights and responsibilities of a father if his paternity is established under the law. For many parents, establishing paternity is a necessary first step before other important issues like visitation or child support can be addressed.
In some situations, establishing paternity is simple. When a child is born of a marriage, it is presumed under law that the mother’s husband is the father. Likewise, a person who voluntarily signs the birth certificate and acknowledges that they are the father enjoys a presumption of parentage under the law.
Not all paternity questions are so easily resolved, however. When paternity is unclear, the court may ultimately determine the issue during a legal proceeding. Either parent has the right to petition the court for a paternity determination. If a DNA test reflects that the person in question is the child’s biological father, the rights and obligations of a parent in NJ will apply accordingly.
Talk to a New Jersey Attorney about Your Parental Rights and Obligations
If you are unsure about how to enforce your legal rights as a parent, a skilled family law attorney can help. From establishing paternity to petitioning for custody of your children, your legal counsel can play a vital role in protecting your rights. Reach out today to learn more about parental rights and obligations in New Jersey.