Whether you are divorced or separated, as a non-custodial father in New Jersey, you have clear legal rights. New Jersey law recognizes that it is in a child’s best interests to spend time with both parents in most cases, and it does not presume that a mother is more fit to raise a child than the child’s father.
Of course, you have certain responsibilities as a father as well; and, in certain circumstances, New Jersey family law judges will interpret a failure to meet these responsibilities as a failure to act in your children’s best interests. As a result, while you owe it to yourself to understand your rights, you owe it to your children to understand your responsibilities, and you need to make smart decisions when it comes to dealing with matters of child support and child custody.
Your Rights as a Non-Custodial Father in New Jersey
As a non-custodial father in New Jersey, your legal rights include:
1. The Right to Parenting Time
Except in unusual circumstances, the New Jersey family law courts will grant visitation time to non-custodial fathers. If you have a visitation order, you are entitled to see your children during your scheduled visitation without interference from your former spouse or partner.
2. The Right to an Appropriate Child Support Award
As a non-custodial father, you will most likely be required to pay child support following your divorce or separation. While you can absolutely spend more on your children than the law requires, you should not be bound to an unjustified child support obligation.
3. The Right to Information about Your Custody and Child Support Orders
Many parents find the court process daunting, and records can get lost over time. If you need help understanding your court-ordered rights and obligations, you are entitled to complete access to the information regarding your child custody or child support case. This includes:
- The right to be treated with respect by court personnel and employees of the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS);
- The right to up-to-date information about your child support payments (by calling the New Jersey Child Support Hotline at 1-877-NJKIDS1); and,
- The right to seek review of court and DHS decisions that negatively impact your finances or your relationship with your children.
Your Obligations as a Non-Custodial Father in New Jersey
As a non-custodial father in New Jersey, your legal obligations include:
1. The Obligation to Comply with Your Custody and Child Support Orders
Unless and until you file a successful appeal or petition for modification, you are bound by the terms of your custody and child support orders. If you violate these orders (i.e. by not paying child support or not returning your children to their mother on time), you could face severe judicial penalties.
2. The Obligation to Submit to Paternity Testing
If you were not married to your child’s mother on the date of your child’s birth, or if there is a dispute regarding your parentage, you may be required to submit to a paternity test in order to establish your legal rights.
3. The Obligation to Stay in Touch with the Court and DHS
As a non-custodial father, there are various times at which you may be required to appear in court, respond to requests for information, or affirmatively disclose information to the court or DHS. You need to meet these obligations promptly in order to ensure that your parental rights remain secure.
Do You Have Questions about Your Rights or Obligations as a Father in New Jersey?
If you have questions about paternity, child custody, or child support in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with a Hackensack family law attorney at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, please call (201) 880-9770 or inquire online today.