YOUR CHILDREN. YOUR RIGHTS.
Many fathers feel disadvantaged in disputes regarding children. Clients facing decision regarding the custody of their children during and after a divorce often have questions about whether a mother or father receives any preference in custody determinations. Father’s rights have recently changed.
Laws governing child custody and parenting time in the State of New Jersey are gender neutral. Both parents begin with equal rights. When considering a child’s best interest, the State of New Jersey will look at the age of the child, whether there are multiple children, the home environment, each parent’s ability to provide for the children, and even the wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age to weigh in on this issue.
Many studies have revealed fathers who are involved in their children’s lives aid in the development of social skills, language and cognitive ability. In New Jersey, custody cases are governed by both statutory law and case law which seeks to ensure that both parents have “frequent and continuous” contact with their children. With that being said, it is still not uncommon for the mother to be designated as the Parent of Primary Residence and the father as the Parent of Alternate Residence. As one might imagine, these labels spark a lot of conflict between the parties in a divorce. You should keep in mind that no matter what the custody designation is, a label does not define who you are as a parent. The quality of time that you spend with your child is of paramount importance.
If you are a father and seek primary residential custody or even shared custody, you will need diligent and assertive legal representation to represent your interests. Remember, you do not have to be a minor player in your child’s life and should never accept less because you are challenged. You have the right to be an active, devoted parent. You also have the right to spend as much time with your child as circumstances permit, including factoring in your work schedule, the child’s school responsibilities, and the distance between you and the mother’s residence. There are many other factors that are considered by the Court.
If your father’s rights are impeded or being interfered with, there are legal remedies for this, and you should seek legal counsel. Your first step should be to contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you aggressively protect your rights and interest as a father.
At the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino, Esq., LLC, we have the experience you need to navigate the often-murky water of New Jersey family law as it concerns father’s rights in custody matters.