How are Custody and Support Issues Handled With Teenage Parents?

Legally Speaking, Custody and Support Matters in the Case of Teenage Parents are not Handled Differently than Those of Adult Parents in New Jersey. However, Particular Considerations Arise, Especially for Grandparent Involvement.

How are Custody and Support Issues Handled With Teenage Parents in Passaic County, NJ?Although it is a less-than-ideal situation, teen pregnancies happen.  In New Jersey, teenage pregnancy rates have dropped by 68% for teens aged 14 and 15 over the past five years.  The rate for teenagers aged 16 and 17 has dropped by nearly 42%.  The state of New Jersey falls well below the country average for teenage pregnancy.  That being said, teenage pregnancy is still a complicated problem regarding the custody and support of the child.

Are There Special Law Considerations for Underage Parents in NJ?

Teen parents have the same rights and responsibilities as adult parents. Although it may seem strange, children who have children are still parents.  They can establish paternity, claim custody, and set up visitation time if they do not live together.  They do not need their parents’ permission to establish paternity or custody.

If the parents aren’t married or living together, the mother usually has sole custody, but joint custody is also possible.  If needed, a court will decide both physical and legal custody.  For example, the court may decide that the baby will live with the mother, but both parents have the right to decide about the baby’s care, health, and education.

Rights and Responsibilities of Teen Parents in New Jersey

Teen parents are required to care for their child.  They can have legal and physical custody of the baby.  Being a minor does not mean the grandparents can take custody away from the teen parents.  The baby’s parents can decide the full name of the child.  Custody can be decided between the baby’s parents or, if an agreement cannot be reached, the courts.  Minor parents can make medical, religious, and educational decisions regarding their child.  They are responsible for the health and welfare of their child and can face charges if the child is abused or mistreated.

It is important to note that unmarried fathers must establish their paternity.  This can be done by filling out the Certificate of Parentage at the hospital or through a DNA test.  Once paternity has been established, custody and child support can be negotiated.

What are the Options if Parents Can’t Afford the Financial Obligations of a New Baby in NJ?

As most minors cannot support themselves financially, this responsibility falls on their parents, the baby’s grandparents.  Unless a teenager is emancipated, they will need financial support from their parents.  If the teen mandated to pay child support cannot do so, their parents must pay it until the teen reaches adulthood. If one parent is an adult, they are financially responsible for the child.  Once the court has established paternity, a support agreement will be created.  Any modifications to that agreement will have to be made by the court.

What if the Grandparents Want to Claim Custody of the Child in NJ?

The only way the grandparents can get custody of the child is by proving the parents are unfit and the health and welfare of the child are at risk.  New Jersey also requires proof that the grandparents are “psychological parents.”  This means they play a parental role in the child’s life and have a constant and supportive relationship.  This is easily demonstrated among grandparents who live in the same home with the child and contribute to their care, such as feeding, bathing, soothing, and otherwise interacting with the child and contributing financially to the child’s needs.  It could be more difficult with grandparents who do not reside with or live close to the child, but custody may be considered if the child’s health is in danger.

Some points considered by the courts are:  the child has lived with the grandparents without the parents for a substantial period, the child has had a meaningful relationship with the grandparents, the child desires to be with their grandparents, and the parents aren’t able to meet the child’s needs. The grandparents who are requesting custody of their grandchild must petition the court and document their relationship with the child.  This is usually done through scheduled visitations by a caseworker who witnesses the relationship between the child and the grandparent.

The courts can grant temporary custody to the grandparents while the teens create a safe living environment, attend parenting classes, and receive counseling.  The parents should also finish their studies and get a job to support their children financially.

Rights and Responsibilities Teen Parents Face Regarding Support and Custody Cases in New JerseyUnderstanding Rights of a Grandparent in a Teen-Parent Scenario

Grandparent rights allow grandparents to require visitation rights.  They can request a set visitation plan from the court by demonstrating the nature of their relationship with the child, how their presence in the child’s life has had a positive effect, and their concern for possible abuse, domestic violence, or other dangers in the home.

The judge will consider the proposed visitation schedule, the relationship between the grandparents, the child, and the parents, any history of abuse by the grandparents, the parents’ visitation plan, the relationship between the child and the grandparents, and the effect their visitation could have on the child and parent’s relationship.

Teenage Parents Still Have Child Support Obligations in NJ

The parents of the child pay child support.  If they are minors and cannot afford support, their parents must pay it until the teen reaches 18.  If the grandparents have custody, the mother and father may be required to contribute to support.

Seek the Advice of Our Child Custody and Support Lawyers for Issues Involving Teenage Parents in Wayne, Totowa, Fort Lee, Millburn, and Northern NJ

Even when agreements are made within the same family, making them 100% legal is always better.  Child custody and support laws are intricate and can be confusing.  You want to do what is best for the baby and do it correctly. The lawyers of the Montanari Law Group have been practicing family law for years throughout Passaic County and Northern New Jersey in towns such as Caldwell, Verona, Wayne, West Milford, Haledon, Totowa, Fort Lee, and Wyckoff.  We will utilize our tools and experience to reach the best possible outcome if you are facing issues involving custody or child support for children of teen parents in New Jersey.  Whether you are a grandparent seeking custody or a parent who wants to retain custody, trust us to help you get through this challenging time.

Call (973) 233-4396 or reach out to us here for a confidential free consultation and learn how our attorneys can serve you.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.