When parents get divorced, they both understandably want to spend time with their children and raise them according to their values. Unfortunately, in a contested divorce, both spouses may feel as though they do not get a fair shake in regards to their child custody terms. There is a stigma associated with child custody and fatherhood, which is essential that courts care more about keeping children with their mother, as opposed to their father. However, in today’s day and age, this is generally not the case, though as a caring father, you should know your rights if you find yourself in a situation where you believe the courts are making an unfair decision. Here are some of the questions you may have:
What are Father’s Rights?
Rather obviously, you must first be legally recognized as a child’s father. In New Jersey, paternity is automatically granted to fathers when they are either married to the mother at the time of birth, or the father was married to the mother at some point 10 months before the birth of the child. A “Certificate of Parentage” is a voluntary document that a mother and father can sign to give paternity rights to a father at the time of a child’s birth. This may also be used as proof.
However, if you were not automatically granted paternity and there is not Certificate of Parentage, you will need to bring a “Paternity Action” to the New Jersey Family Court. If there is a sufficient cause, the judge can order a genetic test to determine the child’s paternity. If paternity is granted, the father may now seek his legal rights in terms of child custody, visitation, and support.
What is the difference between physical and legal custody?
Fathers, if nothing else, should fight for legal custody of their child. Essentially, physical custody pertains to where the child will be living. However, legal custody will grant you at least some level of authority when it comes to making major life decisions for your children, such as religion, education, and extracurricular activities, and medical care. That being said, our attorneys will fight to ensure you get at least shared physical and legal custody.
How will the courts determine child custody terms?
The courts will ultimately seek to establish the best life possible for your child, meaning they will make their decision based on what they believe will benefit your child the most. However, some of the other factors courts will consider are as follows:
- The time elapsed since the last contact with your child
- The bond you and your child share
- The relationship between you and your former spouse
- Your good faith in seeking child custody
- Your history with the child, and whether or not you pose any sort of a risk to your child
Contact our experienced Bergen County firm
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to understand and protect their legal rights before, during, and after the divorce process in towns across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee.
To speak with our team of divorce lawyers today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your concerns about moving out of your marital home during your divorce, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.