Morris County “Tri-parenting” and the Challenges of Non-Traditional Families

Morris County "Tri-parenting" and the Challenges of Non-Traditional FamiliesOur ever changing modern world has brought with it many challenges to our notions of traditional institutions including marriage and family. Non-traditional families have proven to be a challenge for New Jersey courts as well as courts in the rest of the nation.  Same sex marriage, civil unions, adoption, step-parenting as well as surrogate conception of children all present their own unique dilemmas for family law attorneys and courts. When these relationships are not successful issues such as child custody, child support and alimony must be decided.

Family law courts are often the scene of some of the most emotional conflicts that courts face. These situations can differ greatly and are as varied and unique as each family. If you or someone you know will be entering family law court it is critical to speak with an accomplished and experienced attorney to guide you as you make these potentially life-altering decisions. Contact the law firm of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark LLC in Morristown and Hackensack and serving all of Morris and Bergen Counties to tap into our vast experience and knowledge. Contact us and meet with our family law attorneys today at 973-840-8970.

Tri-Parenting Precedents in New Jersey Family Law Courts

Fans of the television show “Friends” may be very familiar with tri-parenting as such a situation was presented for years on the show. As life imitating art the New Jersey courts set president by deciding on a similar case.

In a decision published in 2015, D.G. and S.H. v. K.S., FD-1386-14S, the Superior Court of New Jersey issued what may prove to be a groundbreaking decision as the definition of family continues to develop and evolve with the ever changing times.  In this case, the Court ruled on a situation referred to as a “tri-parenting” relationship, wherein three friends agreed to conceive, raise and take care of a child together as one unit in two households.  The biological mother of the child, propositioned her gay best friend, the biological father of the child, and his husband, to enter into the arrangement. The parties coined their newly found paradigm as a “tri-parenting relationship” which ultimately got featured in major magazines and on a television talk show.

After the child was born in 2009, the parties cooperated together effectively and efficiently to attend her general health, education, and welfare equally, with the biological mother serving as the primary caregiver due to her unemployed status. However the biological father and his spouse remained very active in care giving. For nearly four years the parties worked seamlessly together and without major issue to raise and care for the child.

Problems began when the biological mother married and wanted to move the child out of state to California with her new husband. The biological father and his husband objected and brought the matter before the court. The initial result was the child was temporarily placed in the residential custody of the Plaintiffs, and not allowed to move to California on an interim basis prior to the ultimate decision.

The ultimate decision of the court was to deny the biological mother the right to relocate the child. Furthermore all three parties were granted joint legal custody; all three parties were granted equal residential custody; and the Plaintiffs were designated as the parents of primary residence.

The Challenges faced by Non-Traditional Families in Morris County Family Courts

Many families no longer fit into a traditional mold. With the assistance of alternate reproductive technology (ATR), individuals, same-sex couples, unwed heterosexual couples, and some married couples, are starting non-traditional families. Moreover, non-traditional families are formed when an unmarried couple, whether same-sex or heterosexual, raise children together, to whom only one of them is the legal parent. The formation of the non-traditional family and the children that may result, can bring complex legal issues such as custody, visitation, child support and constitutional issues. Due to lack of concrete guidelines often non-traditional families are forced to resolve these legal issues in the court system.

Though the laws and cases regarding these legal issues vary tremendously, there is an increasing trend for courts to recognize that maintaining a relationship between the child and the non-legal parent is often in the child’s best interests.

Contact our Randolph Family Law Attorneys Today

Many who are involved in non-traditional families are often not aware of their legal rights or that they have any at all. The family law lawyers at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, support and counsel clients in Morristown, Whippany, Medham, Morris, Randolph, and across the greater Morris County Area. The skilled and experienced attorneys will guide you through the practical and legal issues involved in any traditional or non-traditional family law situation.

Contact us online or by ‘phone at 973-840-8970 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation so we can help you decide the best direction for you.