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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney
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I live in nj and my daughters mother lives with me. However

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I live in nj and my daughters mother lives with me. However we are not married and she has choosen to leave. She has a one bedroom condo that I've been paying for to help her. she works part time in the after noon and can't afford her bills. What do I need to do to keep custody of my daughter?
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. I am sending this answer to you only a few minutes after you submitted your question.
I'm sorry to hear about the situation. Until there's a court order regarding child custody, both legal parents are equals. This means that a father can't force a mother to return a child and a mother can't force a father to return a child. If you want to define your rights as a parent and render them enforceable, you would need to to file a petition at the Clerk of Court's Office to establish custodial rights. The Clerk's Office will have forms for that purpose, though you would be wiser to retain an attorney, as custody and visitation issues, along with the law and legal procedure, can be quite complicated and difficult to navigate.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I appreciate the quick response. I assume I should get to the county clerks office asap?

My pleasure. Thank you for your message.
I would recommend getting to your attorney's office asap instead. Your attorney will handle all of that for you, should you hire one. Laypeople who attempt to represent themselves often compromise their own interests and do more damage than good, even when matters seem very clear to them. While an attorney may be costly, retaining an attorney can be an excellent investment to protect your interests, as failing to retain one can have far more costly consequences.
That said, if you wish to represent yourself, filing at the Clerk of Court's Office is the place to start, but I would strongly urge you to retain counsel.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok great! Thanks so much for your help and your quick response time. I appreciate it. Have a safe night.
My pleasure! Good luck! I hope you have a wonderful evening and that the pending weekend is enjoyable.
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