A father has the same rights as a mother. The custody issue is governed by the best interest of the child. In order to determine the best interest of the child, courts look at many factors and weigh them before making a determination. Don't give up easily just because you are the father. Schedule an appointment with a family lawyer and have a strategy how to proceed.
This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
First, as the other answer points out, your rights to a child are equal. That said, the law does still recognize some vestiges of the "tender years doctrine" when you're talking about a very young child (under 18 months old). Yes, you can pursue shared custody (I'd look toward a day-on, day-off schedule, you don't want an infant that young away from either parent for long).
Second, as has been previously said on topics of this level of importance .... some questions here can be quickly, easily, and accurately answered. Others cry out for getting a professional legal opinion and a formal consultation with an attorney who specializes in Family Law. You're in that second category. I can't strongly enough suggest that you meet with an attorney and go over your case and what to do. I'm not one to punt every question here with "get a lawyer". but think of it this way: If this were a medical questions site and someone asked what the proper dosage of Tylenol for a 180 lb man is, it could be answered quick and clean. But - if someone posted a question saying they had severe chest paid radiating down their left arm... you'd say "get to a professional ASAP." You're asking a question here that's the equivalent of telling a doctor you have chest pain. What you do (or don't do) in the immediate future is hugely important to the eventual outcome. The stakes are too high here to skip at least getting a consult with a professional.
I'd also suggest noncustodial parents' support groups like: http://www.facenj.org and http://www.njccr.org . FACE is more active these days. Even if it's a long drive to the meeting (I think Mercer is the further north), I cannot stress how important it is for you to join. If you care about parenting enough to go to the trouble of posting this, then go to the effort of joining FACE.
IF YOU LIKE THIS ANSWER AND APPRECIATE THE TIME IT TOOK TO WRITE IT, PLEASE SELECT IT AS "BEST ANSWER." Thanks. The above is said without seeing your case file and without my understanding the entirety of the facts of your case. Depending on those facts, the above information be may incomplete or may be completely inaccurate. The above is intended as general information only based on what you described and not as legal advice. I advise you to consult with counsel who may be able to provide better information commensurate with a better understanding of your situation.
In making initial custody determinations, family court judges are required to consider the following statutory factors:
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 (over age 12)
History of domestic violence
Stability of the home environment
Needs of the child
If either party makes an application to modify custody or parenting time, family court judges are required to consider any substantial change in circumstances as it relates to/affects the best interests of the children and their health, safety and welfare.
Custody and parenting time are 2 highly complicated areas of family law. Family court judges are given wide discretion to determine what is in the best interests of the children. Given the significant and long-lasting impact that their orders can have, it is crucial that you consult with a family law attorney who has significant experience in handling disputed custody matters, including ones where custody experts needed to be retained and trials were held.
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.
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.
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