Parents in Pennsylvania who are approaching child custody proceedings often have questions about what to expect. While every case is unique and varies based on its own specific facts, there are certain things that can be anticipated to help parents prepare for hearings. It is important to arrive at hearings in as prepared and composed a state as possible. This means preparing arguments, preparing answers to likely questions and bringing the right people along to the hearings.
As Pennsylvania parents divorce, one of the first things they will have to do is create a parenting plan. While this can be daunting, the parents can work together and create a plan that works well and meets many of the needs expressed by the parents and the children.
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.
Some parents in Pennsylvania who are going through a divorce might be worried that their child is unsafe with the other parent. For example, one parent was worried about another parent's drinking. The mother had reportedly taken the child and cut off contact, and the father was concerned that she would drink and drive. She had also not been the child's main caregiver, and the father was concerned about the child's well-being.
A judge or a custodial parent may deny visitation rights to a Pennsylvania noncustodial parent. A judge might do so if the child appears to be in danger with the parent, but it is otherwise unusual. A judge might also order supervised visitation in which the parent can only see the child with someone else present. Parents in either of these situations should comply with any court orders, such as a requirement to attend parenting classes, and they may want to speak with an attorney.
Divorced parents in Pennsylvania can take advantage of the new school year as a time to help children also deal with the transition of their new family situation. They may want to talk to their children about the year ahead and their goals. While this may include academic goals, it is also important to acknowledge relationships, extracurricular activities and jobs for older children.
Divorced or unmarried parents in Pennsylvania must establish a schedule for shared child custody or visitation. A court will determine which parent qualifies as the custodial parent and when the children have time with the noncustodial parent. People naturally feel under pressure when access to their children is concerned, and they should prepare to answer specific questions from the judge.
Making co-parenting work can present some unique challenges for former spouses in Pennsylvania, some of which may be less of an issue if the best interests of the child are kept in mind. Parents are often advised to acknowledge the importance of the other parent in the child's life. Discouraging a child from talking about that parent or disparaging them may create unnecessary emotional issues or cause a child to identify more with the alienated parent.
As part of the divorce process, Pennsylvania parents will need to create a schedule for child custody and visitation. This parenting schedule should be created with the child's needs prioritized over the parents'.
Some fathers may not keep up child support payments because they cannot afford the amount ordered and they are unaware that it is possible to get modifications made. A documentary by the filmmaker Rel Dowdell, "Where's Daddy?", examines the child support system and its affect on African-American fathers in particular. Dowdell interviewed a number of fathers in Pennsylvania to find out what their experience had been in this regard.