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Legal Information: New Jersey


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Laws current as of January 8, 2024

What are some of the pros and cons of getting a custody order?

Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don’t want to get the courts involved. They may have an informal agreement that works well for them or may think going to court will provoke the other parent.

Getting a custody order can give you:

  • The right to make decisions about your child
  • The right to have your child live with you.

If you decide not to get a custody order, then you and the other parent likely have equal rights to making decisions and living arrangements. The exception to this is when paternity has not been legally established.

There are multiple ways that paternity (legal fatherhood) can be established in NJ. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • The child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ends;1
  • The father signs a Certificate of Parentage before or after the birth of a child, and it is filed with the appropriate State agency;
  • By a court order, which may be based on genetic (DNA) test that says there is a 95% or more chance that he is the father.2

However, since there are other ways that paternity may be established, you may want to contact a lawyer for more information. See our Finding a Lawyer page for lawyers in NJ.

1 N.J. Stat. §9:17-43(a)(1)
2 N.J. Stat. §9:17-41(b)