When the parents of a child have not been married, there are a certain number of legal complications that may arise. Custody issues are not always relevant to a divorce. In some cases, single parents may find themselves seeking to marry, and have another person act as a parent for the child. In other cases, the parents of the child may simply choose to remain unmarried. Regardless of the situation, custody and child support will still need to be organized and worked out between the two parents.
Nondissolution Custody And Support
Custody cases that are not linked to any sort of divorce proceedings are known as "nondissolution" cases in New Jersey. Typically, they can begin by a filing with the court. A complaint will be filed by one parent against another to demand either custody or support, or sometimes even to determine paternity. Since there is no marriage associated, these filings can be done on their own, however, since support is often directly related to custody proceedings, it may also be necessary to make support orders. Once a filing is made, issues are likely to be directed to a conference between the two parties, which is sometimes called a "consent conference." These conferences are normally mediative in nature and seek to encourage both parties to come to an amicable, or at the very least, agreeable solution to the issue at hand. If a solution is reached, the agreements in discussion will be finalized. If an agreement is not reached, then the case will need to move forward to a hearing with a judge. If there is to be a hearing, it will follow the same types of proceedings as if it were related to a divorce. Both sides may enlist attorneys to help with arguing their cases, and rules of evidence will also come into play. The judge will rule according to the standard of what type of case is being discussed, custody or support.
Marriage And Custody
Not every nondissolution case deals with a quarrel or disagreement on matters of custody. In fact, sometimes unmarried parents wish to stay together and take care of the child. When this happens, the parents are likely to get married in an effort to solidify the relationship and the parenthood. However, marriage does not automatically entail custody or parenthood. Many people are not aware that simply because they marry their partner who has a child, the child may not be fully entitled to that new parent's benefits, such as health insurance. Because of this, it may sometimes be necessary for a parent to adopt a child even after marriage. These matters can be complex, so it may be best to speak with an attorney to figure out what is necessary for a newly married parent to have full parental responsibility for a child.
Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
If you or a loved one is dealing with issues related to custody of a child with unmarried parents, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.