If you’re a father who is headed toward divorce, you may be nervous about the proceeding, especially if you have children under eighteen with your wife. After all, it wasn’t long ago when fathers seemed to get the short end of the stick in Pennsylvania divorces.
We’re willing to bet that you can think of several examples of divorces where the mother ended up with the kids and where the father only saw his kids once a week and every other weekend. You might have even been a child of divorce and your own father may have faded out of the picture. After all, twenty years ago, many would argue that mothers did have an unfair advantage in divorce.
Fortunately, much has changed in recent years. Family courts across the country have changed their language so it is “gender neutral.” Meaning, today’s child custody laws are not geared toward the mother. Instead, they are focused on what’s in the best interests of the children, and Pennsylvania judges know it’s not always sending the kids to live with the mother most of the time.
So, You’re Getting a Divorce?
Let’s shift the focus on you for a moment. If you’re a father who’s getting a divorce and you want primary custody of the children or you at least want a shared custody arrangement, there is a possibility that you can get what you want, but it depends on the facts of the case.
The factors that affect your ability to get custody of your children:
- Your spouse’s age and health.
- Your spouse’s earning capacity.
- Your spouse’s wishes.
- Your wishes.
- Your children’s wishes.
- Any history of substance abuse.
- Any history of domestic violence.
- Any criminal record history.
- Any history of mental illness.
Ideally, you and your spouse will reach an agreement amongst yourselves about child custody, and from there it will be signed off by the judge and entered as a court order. However, if you both want as much time with the children as possible but you’re fighting about it, the court will look at the facts of the case and render a decision based on the best interests of the children.
If you are both stable, loving parents who are eager to play active roles in your children’s lives, the court is likely to encourage a shared or joint custody arrangement. On the other hand, when one parent is clearly less stable than the other parent, the court may award primary custody to the parent who is “more fit” to care for the children. Meanwhile, the other parent may get visitation.
Fathers Enjoy Equal Rights
Fathers today enjoy equal rights in child custody matters throughout the nation. But unfortunately, too many fathers are still living in the past and they waive their rights too easily. Then, they later regret their decisions and try to go back to court to fix it and get more time with their children.
If you’re a stable, loving father who is a good influence on his children, remember that you have the same rights as the mother in child custody matters. The courts are primarily concerned with the “best interests of the children” doctrine in child custody matters.
Related: Rights of Unemployed Dads in Divorce