How child custody works for never-married parents

Child custody arrangements may commonly be thought of in relation to divorce cases. However, many New Jersey parents who have children together have never been married to each other. If you are in this situation, you will also need to understand how child custody works in New Jersey. You should know that the laws concerning this are generally the same for you as they are for parents who were married but are getting or have gotten divorced.

There is one area in which custody for non-married parents differs from that of divorced parents. This is regarding the identification of paternity. A marriage provides a legal determination of paternity this not existent for unmarried parents. Once this has been established, custody and parenting time arrangements can be worked out.

The State of New Jersey explains that perhaps one of the most important aspects of child custody is that it is about the child’s rights, not the parent’s rights. Spending time with and having relationships with both parents is acknowledged as beneficial for children, barring unusual circumstances like abuse. Strong cooperation between parents is also considered ideal for children. Custody decisions can be impacted by the age, health and employment of both parents. When one person interferes with or does not execute custody rights, options to correct the problem should be explored in order to maintain parent-child bonds.

If you would like to know more about child custody for parents who are divorced or who were never married, visit our child sharing and parenting time web page.