During divorce, the prospect of arguing over child custody may sound both vital and arduous to you. There is a lot to unpack and discuss before the courts make a ruling in the best interests of your child.
What happens when there is no divorce though? As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports, unmarried women account for 33.9% of births in New Jersey. Whether you are the mother or father, it is important to understand what all goes into establishing custody without a marriage license establishing paternity.
Methods of establishing paternity
If you are an unmarried father seeking custody and visitation of your children, you must establish paternity in New Jersey courts. If there is no dispute between you and your child’s mother, all it takes is a voluntary acknowledgment at birth.
When there is a dispute, either parent may request a genetic test or the courts may order one in order to establish a genetic link. A match scoring 95% or higher is sufficient to presume paternity.
Custody in the children’s best interest
As with any divorce proceeding, New Jersey courts aim to make their rulings with a child’s best interests in mind. This includes financial situations, parent-child relationships and other considerations like past records.
Once you establish paternity and the court awards custody, you then have the resources to create support orders, obtain employer-subsidized health care for your children and protect other rights.
In the event that there is no agreement between you and the other parent, there are avenues and resources to investigate when it comes to pursuing your children’s best interests.