WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: New Jersey

Custody

Updated: 
July 14, 2020

Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to file for custody.  However, it may be best to get a lawyer, to make sure that your rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find sources of free or low-cost legal help on our NJ Finding a Lawyer.  Additionally, in some cases, the judge may decide that it is appropriate to order the other party to pay your attorney fees.1

If you are unable to get a lawyer, you can visit your local courthouse to file the paperwork that you will need to start a custody case.

You should know that court workers cannot tell you whether you should bring your case to court or what will happen if you do.  Even if you plan on representing yourself, it may be helpful for you to have a lawyer review your forms before you file them.

1 NJ Court R. 5:3-5(c)

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.