When a parent is single, there are multiple issues that may occur when it comes to the support and custody of a child. Parents that are not married have the same need to address custody, parenting time, child support and relocation issues as parents that are or once were married. This is called a “non-dissolution case.” Unmarried parents are entitled to the same custody rights as married parents.
It is essential to have a custody plan that protects your parental rights and the needs of your children. There are certain challenges that may arise for parents who are seeking these rights. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you fight for your custody rights.
The Types of Custody Non-Married Couples Are Entitled to in New Jersey
There are three types of custody, sole legal and physical custody, joint legal custody, and shared legal and physical custody.
Sole custody is when a child lives with one particular parent and visits the other. For example, if a father has sole custody of his daughter, she lives with him full-time and visits the mother during a specified amount of time, like once a month or during weekends, holidays, vacations, etc.
Joint custody is when both parents share the responsibility of caring for a child. They also are both given the right to determine educational and medical decisions. The child will alternate between parents or live with one parent.
A child’s needs will always come first in the eyes of the courts. A judge may grant any type of custody arrangement that suits a child’s well-being.
How to Prove a Parent is Unfit?
A parent has one job, to provide his/her child with a safe and nurturing environment.
However, there are instances when a parent may be determined as unfit. A parent is considered unfit when he/she places a child’s welfare in danger. Substance abuse, physical/verbal abuse, drug abuse, and even prescription abuse are considered behaviors that can place a child’s safety in jeopardy. Hiring a good attorney to help determine whether a parent is unfit will help solidify your argument.
A Child Custody Court Decision
A judge will consider many factors when determining a child custody arrangement.
The child's (or children) age will be considered. His or her medical and/or emotional needs will also be a deciding factor. Judges compare the parents’ home location. If your child is old enough to make a decision, the court will consider your child's preference as well. The starting age is usually around 12 years old.
The stability of the child's home environment is important. If a home has a history of domestic abuse or violence, by either parent, this will be a strong deciding factor.
The relationship between the child and each parent is also looked upon. Even the relationship between the siblings of each parent is considered. Each parent’s ability to care for the child financially is also evaluated.
These are just a few deciding factors that are looked at that will help influence a Judge’s decision for child custody arrangements.