Fathers in Pennsylvania can take comfort in knowing that courts today typically give equal weight to the roles of both parents in a child's life when making custody decisions. Even so, it's still common for children to end up living with the mother if parents aren't able to make co-parenting or joint custody work. However, there are some steps that fathers looking to stay involved in their child's life may be able to take to ensure that their rights are upheld during and after a divorce.
For starters, dads are advised to be reasonable with child custody and visitation requests. This may require a father seeking custody to be honest about how much time he can spend caring for his child. Dads are also encouraged to keep the best interests of children in mind by facing their own emotions about the relationship with the mother. A dad looking to stay involved in a child's life may need to let go of lingering pain or bitterness related to past interactions with his ex.
Additionally, it can be helpful for dads actively seeking full or joint custody to make physical space for the child, such as preparing a room for their child in a new post-divorce home. This is because courts tend to consider how prepared both parents are to provide proper care for a child. Fathers may also benefit from learning to let go of small issues, such as what clothes the child wears or how homework is handled in each household, to avoid turning small disagreements into full-blown custody battles.
If there is a desire to establish a joint custody arrangement, an attorney may help protect a father's rights by explaining the process and putting together a sensible legal plan. This may involve presenting evidence to show that a dad is financially and emotionally prepared to be an active part of a child's life. Even if a spouse vehemently fights a shared custody request, it may be possible to work out a mutually acceptable visitation schedule. A lawyer might also get involved if one spouse purposely violates custody agreement terms.