What Are Mother's Rights in New Jersey Custody Cases?

What Are Mother's Rights in New Jersey Custody Cases?

Single mothers face many unique challenges, and worry constantly about the health and well-being of their children. Whether you were married or single at the time your child was born, however, you could eventually face an exceptionally difficult challenge: A complex custody battle, brought by the child’s father.

At the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, we advocate on behalf of New Jersey mothers, and we understand your concerns. Whether you’re the one seeking to establish paternity and formalize custody arrangements, or you’re concerned that the legal father will harm your child, our child custody attorneys can help you understand all your rights as a mother – and fight to protect them.

Child Custody Laws in New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, fathers and mothers are automatically given an equal share of custody under the law, provided that it is in the best interests of the child. Because it’s much easier to identify the mother, you may have already taken on full custody since birth, and never expected to fight a heated custody battle with your child’s father.

However, once the father has been legally established, either through voluntary acknowledgment or a court order for paternity testing, he also has the right to petition for custody. In most cases, you may wish to pursue a joint or shared custody arrangement, which is often considered the best outcome. Aside from allowing you to share parenting responsibilities and financial obligations evenly, it can often reduce the emotional stress and strain placed on your child.

Physical Custody Versus Legal Custody

Even if you and your ex happily agree to share parenting responsibilities, there are two types of custody that you’ll need to balance. Legal custody is the right to make decisions on behalf of your child, from education to religious beliefs, whereas physical custody dictates where the child will actually live.

There are many ways this can be divided up depending on your situation. As an example, you may seek joint legal custody so that you both have a say in your child’s future, but the father doesn’t have an appropriate living situation ready for the child, and has a job that requires constant travel. Thus the judge may award you sole physical custody as the mother, but grant the father parenting or visitation time, in lieu of splitting the child’s time evenly between both homes. Determining how physical and legal custody will be divided plays a central role in most child custody cases.

What Are Mother’s Rights in Child Custody Cases?

But what happens if you fundamentally disagree about custody and parenting time for your child? This is when things get more complicated, especially if you believe your child’s father is abusive or otherwise unfit to be a parent. You may have several legitimate reasons to restrict the father’s access, such as a history of domestic violence or severe mental illness. Conversely, the father may be seeking sole custody, either out of spite or a misguided belief that you are unfit to care for the child.

Some of the most common reasons you may be seeking to exclude the child’s father from custody include:

  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual assault allegations
  • Criminal associations and activity
  • Mental illness
  • Incompetence

When you work with our skilled New Jersey child custody attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, we’ll act quickly to file temporary or permanent protective orders against an abusive partner. We can also fight to counteract any claims that you are mentally incompetent or abusive, by working with experts who can testify to your sound mind, stability, and fitness as a parent.

For more than 20 years, our elite legal team has been devoted to helping New Jersey families find a measure of peace during sensitive family law issues. If you’re struggling to establish your rights as a mother, we can fight on your behalf and strive for the best possible outcome.

Contact us today at (732) 783-5588 for a free consultation!

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