Fathers share a unique bond with their children, and there are no doubt fathers can offer crucial love while playing an important role in their children’s lives. Today’s family courts in New Jersey appreciate this. That’s why they have moved away from the trend of past decades when mothers were more often given preferential treatment over fathers in custody cases. Instead, these days, fathers can have equal rights as mothers in custody (and related) cases.
If you are or maybe a father and you need to establish your fathers’ rights in Monmouth County, you can turn to a Red Bank custody lawyer at Dwyer, Bachman, Newman & Solop Attorneys at Law. We can explain your rights as a father under New Jersey law and provide fierce representation in visitation, custody, paternity, and other family law cases.
Fathers’ Rights: How to Establish Paternity
Paternity can be the basis for requesting visitation, custody, and/or support payments. Generally, the state assumes that children born in a marriage have been conceived by the husband and wife. This assumption also stands for children born within 10 months of a spouse’s death or divorce.
Outside of these circumstances, paternity for children in New Jersey can be established in either of the following ways.
Option 1 to Establish Paternity: Completing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
When the mother and father agree on paternity, both parents sign a “Certificate of Parentage” or a “Voluntary Acknowledgement” form. Completed, notarized forms should be filed with the New Jersey Department of Health. It’s difficult to revoke this acknowledgment, once submitted. Consequently, it’s best to not submit these forms if there are any questions about who the father of a child may be.
Option 2 to Establish Paternity: Filing a Paternity Action with the Family Court.
When there are disagreements about who the father of a child is, this is the route fathers and/or mothers will need to go. In addition to potential and actual parents, others who can file a paternity action in New Jersey include legal guardians of a child and any welfare agency from which the child may be receiving support.
After a paternity action has been initiated:
- The judge can order the father, mother, and child to submit to DNA testing.
- The judge can also order any presumed fathers to submit to genetic testing.
- Fathers who refuse to submit to DNA testing can be assumed by the courts to be the father.
- If any genetic test establishes who the biological father is, the judge will issue a paternity judgment.
- The father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate.
Once paternity is established:
- Fathers can seek visitation and/or child custody.
- Mothers can pursue child support while filing their own custody petitions to formalize court orders (or filing responses to fathers’ petitions).
Fathers’ Rights to Child Custody
Parents can fight over custody at any point after paternity has been established or divorce has been finalized. Fathers have just as much right to seek and expect custody of their children as mothers do. This includes physical custody or parenting time with children, as well as legal custody or decision-making authority for children.
The best way for fathers to establish their rights to custody is to show that it serves the children’s best interests. Factors that the court considers when it’s determining what is in the child’s best interests in terms of custody arrangements include (but are not limited to):
- Each parent’s relationship with the children, including how much time each parent has spent with the children
- The child’s relationship with any siblings or others in either parent’s home
- The parents’ relationship with each other and, specifically, their ability to communicate and put the children’s best interests first
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to support the child having a positive relationship with the other parent
- Whether either parent has a history of abuse or problematic behavior that could present a risk to the children
- The children’s needs and preferences, as long as children can explain what they want
- The stability and safety of each parent’s home environment
- The location and proximity of each parent’s home environment
How to Protect & Assert Your Fathers’ Rights in Monmouth County, NJ
When it’s time to exercise your fathers’ rights, contact a Red Bank custody lawyer at Dwyer, Bachman, Newman & Solop Attorneys at Law. Known for our expertise and record of success, our boutique family law firm is dedicated to helping fathers safeguard and assert their rights in an array of custody cases and other family law matters.
With more than a century of combined family law experience, we have what it takes to tirelessly advocate your rights and help you strategically fight for your objectives in simple and complex child custody cases alike.
Call (732) 431-0150 to get essential legal advice from a 5-star fathers’ rights lawyer in Red Bank, NJ.
No matter how simple your case may seem upfront, things can quickly get complex and contentious, especially when matters involving children are involved. From parenting time disputes to post-decree custody modifications, we can help you anticipate and overcome potential challenges and work diligently to:
- Build you a strong, persuasive case
- Balance your emotional and financial needs
- Determine and pursue the strategies that can set your case up for success
- Help you protect what’s most important—your child, as well as your time and relationship with your child.
You have nothing to lose by picking up the phone to learn more about your fathers’ rights and how we can help you.