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Rights of Unmarried and Same-Sex Parents in NJ

Rights of Unmarried and Same-Sex Parents in NJ

Applicable to both heterosexual and same-sex partners, a recent NJ court decision offers hope to the Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR) when it comes to parenting time. Often the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) will make it difficult for the other parent to see the children. In the case of unmarried heterosexual couples parenting time issues are frequently more difficult for fathers than for fathers in relationships where the child was born during wedlock. For same-sex couples in which the child is born prior to a civil union, or there simply is no civil union, and the non-biological parent does not have opportunity to adopt prior to the dissolution of the relationship, parenting time issues can become even more difficult. In both cases, there is hardship due to certain long-time presumptions by the courts about children being born to a married mother who stayed at home and raised those children and father who worked to support the wife and children which have not yet changed to meet the diverse relationships that now exist. Even in the case of dissolution of marriage, the father who worked to support the family and finds himself divorced often finds the other party withholding or denying parenting time. In the case of Ewing v. Hart, the NJ Appellate Court held that (1) a mother who moved to Florida with the children and denied summer and holiday visitation time to the father was in contempt of court; (2) charged the mother with custodial interference and signaled she may be required to return the children to NJ if the mother did not cease her interference with the father’s parenting time; and (3) permitted the father to file a motion for a change in custody in the event the mother continued to deny the father parenting time as ordered. Although the mother and father were never married, the court refused to take a prejudicial position against the father. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter. If you are involved in a dispute regarding child custody or parenting time, you should consult an experienced family law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on dissolution of a marriage, civil union or domestic partnership, child custody or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.

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