Particularly if you and your significant other share a child or children together, ending a relationship is always challenging. Figuring out the division of parenting time, unfortunately, only adds to the dilemma. It’s far easier to determine who gets the furniture, the silverware, the car, etc.
If you are one of the many individuals in the nation dealing with child custody for unmarried parents, the parental rights of each adult must be considered, as well as the child/parent relationship, and other factors.
After a breakup, regarding child custody arrangements, if you’re try to figure out what will happen, you want to know one thing in particular: Before making any child custody orders, what factors does the court consider?
The Establishment of Parental Rights
It’s pretty straightforward, determining parental rights for married parents. But what about in the case of unmarried parents? Determining parental rights can be more difficult and involved. To the child in question, you must first establish the fact that you do, indeed, have parental rights before you can obtain any type of custodial rights. Unmarried fathers must, in some states, establish paternity to be acknowledged as the legal parent of a child.
Even if a man has assumed a parental role in the life of a child, and even if he’s the child’s biological father, parental rights may not automatically be received by an unmarried father without establishing paternity. On the other hand, the biological mother is automatically granted parental rights.
Along with the child’s mother, an acknowledgment of paternity must be signed by an unmarried father in order to establish parental rights. A petition can be filed by the father if the mother of the child refuses to sign. To confirm paternity, genetic testing could be involved.
In the same manner in which a mother would, a man has the right to pursue custody once he obtains parental rights. Both fathers and mothers have equal rights to the custody of a child.
Options for Child Custody
A judge can grant soul or joint custody, based on a number of determining factors. Somewhat equally, the parents will share parenting time in a joint custody arrangement. On a regular basis, visitation time with the child will be specifically scheduled for the other parent if one is granted sole custody.
On occasion, no visitation will be allowed, and one parent will gain sole custody of a child, as in the case of child abuse situations. A social worker may be required to be present during supervised visits, if indeed any visitation is allowed, at all.
Factors and Considerations
For determining child custody, the following factors may be considered by a judge:
- History of abuse or domestic violence.
- The wishes of the child (if a knowledgeable, mature, and appropriate opinion can be expressed).
- If, in the past, one parent acted as the primary caregiver of the child.
- The relationship of the child with each parent’s family members, household, community, etc.
- The ability and health of each parent to care for the child.
- The relationship the child has with each respective parent, specifically.
Do you need the assistance of a knowledgeable, experienced attorney regarding the representation of your parental rights? Look no further than Romanowski Law Offices, New Jersey’s number one family law attorney.
Curtis J. Romanowski, ESQ. is the author of the highly recognized treatise: Child Custody, Protection & Support (now in its Fifth Edition, and voted NJ Super Lawyer – Family Law, 2005-2021).