Child custody and unmarried parents

When two people aren’t married, but they have a child together, the mother will usually receive sole physical custody automatically. In fact, it’s rare that a father could win a child custody case over a mother in these circumstances. The child will most likely live with the mother full time unless the mother agrees to other circumstances.

However, the father can usually take action to receive — at the very least — visitation rights, even if the mother doesn’t agree. Courts in New Jersey primarily believe that the children are best-served when they can spend a generous and regular amount of time with the non-custodial parent.

It’s a good idea for unmarried fathers to be present during the birth

Fathers may want to be present at the hospital for the birth of their child if the mother agrees. While the mother may prefer the father to wait outside the birthing room, if the father is there for the birth, he will be able to lend his support and be there for the momentous occasion of the birth of his child. Being present for the birth will also allow the fathers to sign the birth certificate when it’s time. Having his name on the birth certificate will establish the father’s paternity while helping to secure the father’s shared parenting rights.

What if the mother has the baby without the father’s knowledge?

Sometimes a mother will become pregnant and try to give birth to the baby without the father’s knowledge. In these circumstances, if the father finds out, he may have a difficult time getting the mother to let him establish paternity and receive visitation rights. However, fathers will have the option of proving paternity through a court process that involves a DNA test.

Fathers who prove their paternity will usually be able to receive parental rights, including the ability to visit their child or children. However, if the mother of the child is already married, child custody will go automatically to the mother’s spouse, and it might not be possible for the biological father to obtain custody via a court action.

Are you trying to establish paternity? You may want to investigate what New Jersey family law says about your situation to determine the best strategies available to achieve your family law goals.