Judges in Pennsylvania and other states are not allowed to discriminate against fathers when awarding custody of their children and base their decision on the best interests of the child. However, there are concerns that judges rely on rapidly-outdated presumptions while deciding child custody issues. There are several ways to increase the odds of obtaining custody for fathers or either parent, for that matter.
A strong record of timely child support payments is essential. A parent should keep payment records if there is an informal support agreement. Modifications should be sought from the court if payments cannot be made.
Accurate records should also be kept on visitation. A parenting plan on raising the child can be the basis of these records and may be a way to later present arguments to the court.
A parent should also develop a plan on basic care. A judge will be interested in living arrangements and whether the parent's home can comfortably accommodate children, the child's education and their activities. Finances are also important.
Parents also need to take part in their children's lives to reflect a meaningful relationship with them. They should routinely attend their social, athletic, educational and religious events. Birthdays, baptisms and school plays are just an example of important events that a parent should attend.
A parent must also respect their former or soon-to-be former spouse, especially in front of their children. Rude behavior diminishes the odds of obtaining custody from a court. Most importantly, this behavior harms their children.
Finally, a parent should carefully consider whether they have the time or resources for custody and the type of arrangement that is feasible and beneficial for their child. An attorney can help provide advice on this issue, seek alternative methods such as mediation to resolve this matter or pursue their rights in court.