Skip to main content

What are a single mother's rights in NJ- when the father also seeks custody?

Haddonfield, NJ |

I am pregnant an unmarried. The father and I both feel strongly about parenting and obtaining custody. Each of us has stability and a great amount of family support to raise the child in NJ. Unfortunately- we are incapable of communicating with one another in a civil way and are considering an abortion due to our toxic interactions. I very much want this child, my first- but fear it will enter a life of legal battles. I want to make sure I have some information before that decision is made. What are my rights as a mother with an infant? What is typical for shared custody during these first years? Would I have to hand the baby over 50% of the time regardless of breast feeding? What are his rights to pursue?

I would like to add that I am not interested in keeping the child from the father. He will actually be a very good father and positive influence and he feels the same about me as a mother. Our issue is with communication with each other only. I am curious what is typical in the 0-3 year stage for shared custody. I'm trying to get a feel for how that would work.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Best answer

    There are no set rules regarding custody and parenting time. There is a presumption in favor of joint legal custody and meaningful parenting time with both parents. There is a doctrine still followed in New Jersey to some extent known as the “tender years doctrine,” that essentially provides that the best interests of a child 3 years or younger are served by primarily residing with the natural mother and having parenting time with the natural father, but this doctrine has been somewhat eroded over the last several years. In short, there is no law that prohibits an award of primary physical custody to the natural father when a child is of “tender years,” and it could theoretically be ordered under certain circumstances. As an aside, the fact that a newborn child may or may not be breastfeeding will most likely have an impact upon a family court judge’s decision to award overnight parenting time to a natural father.

    Case law requires that family court judges consider the following factors in making initial custody determinations:

    Relationship of the child with his/her parents and siblings
    Each parent's ability to communicate with each other and work together
    Each parent's willingness to accept custody arrangements
    History of a parent's unwillingness to cooperate with a custody plan
    Fitness of each parent
    Geographical proximity of the parents' homes
    Age and number of children
    Child's preference, when the child is of a sufficient age and intelligence to make a decision
    History of domestic violence
    Stability of the home environment
    Needs of the child

    Family court can be a complicated and confusing process for the self-represented litigant, especially one who has little prior experience with the legal system, and even more so when the child that is the subject of the proceedings is a newborn or relatively young. It is important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney to find out what your rights are and how to protect your and your child’s interests when you go to court.

    You should consider meeting with an attorney well-versed in these areas. I recommend you seek a law firm that concentrates in family law. This concentration allows the attorneys to better understand the issues and complexities of you matter.

    Additionally, below are links to articles and information that may assist you with your case.

    Good luck.
    Brad M. Micklin, Esq.
    The Micklin Law Group
    187 Washington Ave., Suite 2F
    Nutley, NJ 07110
    973-562-0100
    Brad@Micklinlawgroup.com
    www.micklinlawgroup.com

    Please mark as "Helpful" or "Best Answer" if our advice helped you. This information is based upon the limited facts you presented. My advice is based on New Jersey law and may be different if I find that the facts presented are different. Additionally, this answer does not contain any confidential information nor does it create any attorney/client relationship.


  2. You should consult with an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your matter. Once your child is born, custody will need to be addressed. If you and the child's father are unable to agree on an arrangement, then the Court's involvement may be sought. The Court can Order a custodial arrangement in the best interests of the child that will depend on a variety of factors. You can find more information on this issue at the following link:
    http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/children-parenting/child-custody/

    The information provided is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This information is designed for general information only. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and emails. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.


  3. As a son to be mother of an infant, you will have every right to protect yourself and to nurture your child.

    DISCLAIMER This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State where this offense is charged; and, who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about and with whom you would have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State where this charge is filed


  4. In NJ, both parents, all things being equal, have equal rights to their children. However, inn the NJ Supreme Court case of Beck v. Beck, for shares custody, parents must have the potential to cooperate (my paraphrase). Women who wouldn't normally breast feed do so from time to time to gain a perceived advantage in custody disputes. It doesn't work. You should really take you inquiries on something this vital beyond this forum IMO.

    This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site, you agree and understand that there is no attorney-client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State having jurisdiction over your matter, and who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about, and with whom you would have an attorney-client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State having jurisdiction over your matter.


  5. This is a serious decision. I would first immediately seek out a therapist. One you trust, and who you can speak with. Then I would contact an attorney in your area ASAP. Pay for an hour of time with him or her. Provide him or her with the facts relative to your matter, prior to the meeting. Meet with the attorney. Take detailed notes regarding the possible scenarios. Then speak with your therapist and try to make a decision that works for you. There are a lot of issues and possibilities, and not all of them are positive for you in the future. Good luck.

    This office does not represent you. This email does not form any attorney / client relationship. In order to form an attorney client relationship with our office, our office requires both a signed retainer and payment of any initial fee. Further, since we have very limited facts relative to your matter, you should not rely on any of the general advice set forth within our answer. I would strongly recommend that you speak with counsel regarding your issue.

Criminal defense topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics