Myths About Pennsylvania Custody Law
One of the fictions that exists surrounding child custody laws in Pennsylvania is that fathers do not have the right to equal child custody. Many fathers seeking custody of their children often share this falsehood, or believe it to be true. Our blog today debunks this myth and discusses custody rights for both parents in Pennsylvania.
The custody of minor children in Pennsylvania is determined by the “best interests of the child” standard. The courts take into consideration multiple factors listed in the Pennsylvania statutes that judges should consider when determining who gets custody.
In the past, there was a presumption in favor of the mother for child custody purposes called the “Tender Years Doctrine.” The belief was that mothers were best suited to care for babies and young children. This preference has been abolished in Pennsylvania, and now both fathers and mothers have equal custody rights to their children. Today, state law specifically states that “there shall be no presumption that custody should be awarded to a particular parent.”
The same child custody factors that apply to mothers also apply to fathers in any given child custody case in Pennsylvania. Some of these factors include:
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party
- The parental duties performed by each party
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and community life
- The availability of extended family
- The child’s sibling relationships
- Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational, and special needs of the child
- Whether an ongoing risk of harm to the child exists because of any abuse
- The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another.
Additionally, Pennsylvania law specifically states that custody factors applied to any given case should be “gender neutral.” Specifically, “no party shall receive preference based upon gender in any award granted [for custody].”
Are you a father seeking custody of or visitation with your children? Or do you have questions in general about child custody and visitation laws and procedures in Pennsylvania? Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced child custody lawyers to discuss your situation.