Father's Rights in New Jersey

By Candice Geier

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As opposed to the mother, a father will more often have to fight for his parental rights.The law in New Jersey is written to consider the best interest of the child when courts award parental rights. But, a father does have the right to petition the courts in order to access his parental rights.

Right to Visitation

Fathers in New Jersey have the right to visit their children, according to the states code. It is seen as the best interest of the child to have continuing contact with both parents. Even if the mother has primary custody of the child and retains most decision-making rights, the father is still allowed visitations. The visitations can be revoked if the father has committed violent crimes or sexual assault. If he has committed these crimes, he may not be allowed to exercise his visitation rights. He may appeal the decision, but there will be at least a ten day waiting period for the courts to deliberate.

Right to Custody

Custody orders may seem confusing, but are rather simple. In New Jersey a father has the right to retain legal custody or physical custody, or even both. If the father retains physical custody, his child will live with him. If he has legal custody, he may only have visitations and holidays with his children, and is still included in the decisions that will effect his children. A father may petition the courts to order a custody agreement. If the parents were married, custody orders will be made at the time of divorce. All custody orders must be followed. The courts will determine custody based on the prior conduct of the parents as well as where each parent resides and the opportunities they can provide. Courts in New Jersey will also consider the opinion of any child who is at least 10 years of age.

Right to Decide and Support

A father has the right to make decisions concerning his children. Basic rights are protected by the 14th amendment and have been carried down through common law. Fathers in New Jersey have the right and responsibility to support their children and prepare them for the future. Fathers have the right to decide how their children will be educated. Fathers have the right to help decide which religion their children will be taught. The type of medical care children will receive can be decided by a father as well. These rights can not be infringed upon without evidence that the father's decisions has or may cause the child harm in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Custody and Visitation Rights. Often times, the courts will grant or deny these rights when they make custody orders.