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What Are Fathers’ Rights?
Fathers often think they can’t seek divorce or custody of their children because they’ll lose them or lose most of their time with their kids. Fathers in New Jersey have equal rights under the law. Understanding how this has changed can be helpful when researching your options.
When it comes to changing social norms, it can often be slow going. But times have changed—men are equal partners when it comes to caring for children and women now make up a huge portion of the outside-the-home workforce. As a result, the family courts review both parents’ situations equally to determine child custody and support.
Fathers’ Rights in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the law is very clear. It explicitly states that the father and the mother’s rights toward custody are equal: “In any proceeding involving the custody of a minor child, the rights of both parents shall be equal.”
It isn’t automatic for mothers to naturally get full custody. Fathers can sue for full custody and have just as much of a chance of winning their argument. In each case, the presiding judge will examine their legal argument. The main thing that will compel them in their decision will be what’s in the best interest of the child (or children).
Since the child’s best interests are what everyone wants in this situation, it’s important the parents take a close look at how available they are for their children because of work and other responsibilities. If the parent is available and wants to be actively involved, they should do everything in their power to get a custody schedule that reflects this.
To that end, retain an experienced family law attorney who can best present your side to the judge. They should know exactly what a judge is looking for when naming a custodial parent and if there are red flags likely to have your petition denied.
Why Does It Seem Like Women Are More Often Awarded Custody?
Short answer: They’re not. While it may seem like women are automatically awarded full custody, this is absolutely not the case. In fact, New Jersey law has stated for years that it’s a gender-neutral state when it comes to deciding full custody.
Instead, this stereotype comes from two places. First, many people assume that it’s still the case just because it was for so many years. But also, some fathers may not know that they have the right to sue for full custody because of these previous “traditions” about granting custody to the mother.
The law now acknowledges that everything should be done in a divorce to ensure that the child has regular contact with both parents. The connection between a father and child should be just as important as the one with a mother.
Factors a New Jersey Judge Must Consider When Deciding If the Father or Mother Get Custody
There are many different aspects that have to be determined concerning a child when a couple divorces. The court will have to rule on custody, child support, and a visitation schedule that’s fair, but most of all considers the best interest of the child.
Here, specifically, are the factors that will be considered:
- Are the parents fit to care for the child and do they each have a stable home to raise the child in?
- How close do the parents live to each other and to the child’s school?
- If the child is considered old enough and mature enough to decide, who does the child wish to live with?
- Does the child have any special needs?
- Is there a history of violence or abuse with one or both of the parents?
- Are there any factors that may influence the child’s physical or mental well-being?
- What are the work responsibilities of each of the parents?
Fathers’ Rights for Child Support in New Jersey
When a party is chosen as the custodial parent, they may petition the court for child support. This is still the case if the custodial parent is the father. He has equal rights to petition for and receive child support from his former spouse to assist in the care of the children. This goes against another stereotype that the father is the sole source of financial support for the child. The actual criteria used isn’t the gender of the parent but is how much they make and how much they can contribute to their child’s well-being.
No father should immediately feel they have no chance of getting custody of their children. In New Jersey, the old stereotypes of only mothers getting custody is not the actuality, since this state reviews child custody and support through a gender-neutral lens. The focus is truly where it should be—on the best interest of the child in question.
Contact the Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Cherry Hill, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.