Divorce proceedings in New Jersey typically involve negotiating custody arrangements and parenting plans when the spouses involved share minor children. For unmarried parents, there is often a bit more uncertainty about how they can resolve disagreements about custody. Unmarried fathers, in particular, may be uncertain about their rights, and unmarried mothers may not understand when the family courts can help them resolve disagreements. They may not even think that the family courts will hear their case because they never got married.
It is important to understand that the New Jersey family courts can help unmarried couples resolve custody disputes while working to support the children’s best interests.
The courts can help to create a parenting plan
Unmarried parents have the same rights as married parents, although there may occasionally be a few extra steps involved in asserting them. For example, unmarried fathers do need to establish paternity before they can ask for shared custody according to their rights as a parent under New Jersey law.
However, once both of the parents have the legal recognition of the state, a family law judge can help them figure out how to divide parenting time and decision-making authority, as well as financial responsibility for the children.
During custody proceedings, even if parents never married one another, what matters the most is what is best for the children. A judge will typically try to give both parents time with the children unless there are factors like substance abuse or domestic violence that would make such arrangements unsafe for the children.
If the parents litigate and ask a judge to divide parenting responsibility, then the judge is the one who makes those final decisions. Parents also have the option of working with one another to resolve their disputes.
Mediation or counseling can help with co-parenting
Sometimes, unmarried parents would benefit from attending a family mediation session to negotiate reasonable custody arrangements. Other times, especially considering that they will have to maintain a co-parenting relationship, the best option might involve sitting down with a counselor who specializes in co-parenting, as their therapy sessions can help them learn conflict resolution tools and new communication systems.
Co-parenting apps can also be beneficial for those trying to minimize the conflict and disputes that arise as they adjust to shared parenting time arrangements. Unmarried parents that try to cooperate with one another will often have an easier time securing the best outcomes in custody matters.
Learning more about a family’s options for resolving New Jersey custody disputes can help both parents who are navigating such a challenge approach the matter more reasonably. Additionally, speaking with an experienced legal professional can help them protect their interests as they move forward.