What are a Father’s Rights After a Divorce in NJ?
Occasionally, husbands and fathers facing the prospect of divorce come into the process with a misconception about their rights and what they should expect. They may believe that mothers are always awarded primary or sole custody of shared children, or that they should expect to be the noncustodial parent who owes child support and alimony. In the modern world, fathers can expect more, and fathers and mothers are seen as equal by family courts. Below, we discuss the rights fathers can expect after a divorce in New Jersey. Talk to a savvy New Jersey child custody attorney if you need help with a child custody or divorce matter.
Historically, courts tended to default to awarding primary custody to mothers. Fathers tended to be the breadwinners of the family, while mothers tended to stay home and take care of the family. Nowadays, a single-income household with only the father earning income is the exception, rather than the norm. Dual-income families are far more common.
Likewise, there is no default presumption that mothers are homemakers, nor one that they should “get the kids” in the divorce. Fathers have an equal right to primary or joint custody, as the circumstances of the family and the divorce dictate. If you want custody of your children, make your case to the court, or to your spouse in mediation or settlement negotiations, with the help of a seasoned child custody lawyer.
Another common misconception is that fathers are primarily responsible for financially supporting children. Under New Jersey law, both parents share equal responsibility for providing financial support. They must both contribute to the costs of raising the children in accordance with their earning capacity, regardless of gender. Child support determinations are determined both by the income of each parent and the amount of time each parent spends with the kids. If a father earns significantly more income and only sees the children during bi-weekly visitation, he can expect to pay more in child support. If the father has primary custody and the mother earns more, then the mother will likely owe more child support.
Parenting Agreements and Parenting Time
Despite the equal status in the law, mothers indeed tend to get primary physical custody more often than fathers, in part due to preexisting biases on the part of family court judges. That being said, fathers who request joint or shared custody are likely to be successful. One of the reasons mothers are more likely to get primary physical custody is simply because they are more likely to ask for it.
Regardless, fathers and mothers should enter into parenting time agreements as part of their divorce settlement or divorce judgment. Fathers have the right to parenting time and visitation, whether that means sharing equal physical custody or taking the kids for regular visitation, such as on weekends. With the help of your family law attorney, you have the right to negotiate a fair and equal parenting time arrangement with your former spouse to ensure that you get to have the relationship with your kids that you want, need, and deserve.
Passionate and Effective Help With Your New Jersey Family Law Matter
If you need dedicated legal help with child custody, child support, alimony, divorce, or some other family law matter in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.