What are my ex’s new spouse’s legal rights when it comes to my children?
Child Custody and Divorce Attorneys Dealing with Impacts of a Parent’s New Partner
Hashing out the details of kids, custody, and parental rights is complicated and must be carefully considered.
The division of assets and financial support that make up a traditional divorce are rabbit holes in and of themselves, requiring collaboration on the part of both ex-spouses. When it comes to children, however, an entirely different level of agreement and teamwork must be engaged in order for both parents to remain in the lives of their children. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds as its central priority the wellbeing of involved children; as part of this wellbeing, they will attempt to ensure that each parent spends significant time with the children if that is at all possible.
The Superior Court: Family part supports divorcing couples in addressing four main elements of legalese as it involves children: physical custody, legal custody, parenting time agreements, and child support payment. Read on to learn more about each of these elements of separating parents’ post-divorce reality, and what legal rights new partners have in the life of your children in New Jersey.
Can a new relationship affect custody in New Jersey?
In order to discuss the impact of a new spouse or relationship on rights when it comes to your children, it is important to understand that there are different types of custody in New Jersey and each imbues different rights. Custody in New Jersey contains two aspects: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines where the child will live: which parent will be the custodial guardian. Legal custody refers to how the parents will make decisions regarding their children. Such decisions could include how the child is educated, whether they will undergo medical treatments, what their religious upbringing will be, and what types of people and influences will be in the children’s life.
The main custody arrangements in New Jersey are sole custody, joint custody, and joint legal custody.
One parent has 100 percent custody
When one parent has sole physical and legal custody, their children live with them the vast majority or all of the time, and they are the legal guardian, having the sole right to make all decisions regarding their child. The other parent may have restricted visitation rights, often supervised, or they may have no rights at all. Sole custody in the physical and legal sense is often awarded to one parent when the other is deemed to be incapable of caring for the children, perhaps because of a history of domestic violence or drug abuse.
Both parents have equal rights
This arrangement constitutes the opposite of sole custody. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents share the physical and legal rights and responsibilities as it regards their children. As part of their parenting time agreement, both parents share equal time with the children, either through alternating nights and weekends or vacation time. Additionally, each parent has the right to a say in legal matters and upbringing considerations regarding the children.
One parent is with the children the majority of the time, but decisions are made together
In a joint legal custodial agreement, one parent is the primary custodial caregiver. This means that the children live with one parent and spend the majority of their time with them; however, both parents share equal decision-making rights regarding the children.
Does my ex’s new spouse have legal rights to make decisions for my children?
Regardless of whether you and your ex share physical and legal custody or your ex has sole custody, their new spouse does not have a legal say as it regards your children. While a new spouse, a step-parent, may try to step in with the intention of supporting your children, they do not have the legal right to do so. The only way they would obtain the legal go-ahead to make decisions for your children would be if they adopted them. In this case, you would have been approached to sign away your legal right to them at all, and chances are, you haven’t done that.
So is your ex’s new spouse attempting to step in to be the new parent? Are they showing up at school to pick them up, or putting their name on your child’s extracurricular documents as their emergency contact? If so, they do not have legal permission to do this. A school or after-school group can face heavy legal trouble if they allow your child to get into a car with someone who does not have legal caregiver rights or does not have written permission. Seek the support of a skilled family law attorney to ensure that your children are in good hands when they’re not under your care.
Contact our Attorney to Discuss Your Custody Case
If you are concerned that your legal rights as a parent are being usurped by your ex’s new spouse, it is important that you are backed up by a family law attorney like the ones you can find at the Bronzino Law Firm.
If you need help protecting your legal custodial rights, we’ve got your back. At Bronzino Law Firm, we successfully represent clients in Mantoloking, Beach Haven, Lavallette, Waretown, Lakewood, Asbury Park, Lacey, and Berkeley Township.
Call today at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to explore your possibilities. We will work towards protecting your parental rights and help you in your situation.