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Fathers' custody time restricted, according to study

Pennsylvania courts generally adopted the trend toward granting joint custody after divorce. But, fathers are awarded less child custody time in this state, according to a recent study.

The Dad's Resource Center of State College reviewed 700 cases in 14 counties in the state where the court made final custody decisions beginning in 2016. It determined that mothers were awarded an average 116 hours of weekly custody time. By comparison, fathers received 52 hours.

Mothers were awarded full or primary custody in 496 cases compared to 100 cases where fathers received this custody. Joint custody was granted to both parents in 104 cases. Of these 700 cases, one parent was awarded 132 hours per week, while the other parent was granted 36 custody hours. Mothers were awarded primary custody in 291 cases, while fathers were awarded this custody in 52 cases. This approximates every other weekend and one night per week of custody time.

Pennsylvania courts, while awarding joint custody more frequently, do not presume that joint custody should be granted. Despite this trend, however, the DRC said that its study indicates that fathers are not receiving the chance to give needed attention to their children in too many cases.

The state Superior Court has ruled that a law without a joint custody presumption allows family courts to conduct a complete, fair and thorough review of the best interests of the child without making the custodial parent defend their current custody situation. Judges analyze the best interests of the child in accordance with 16 factors that impact the safety of the child that the Superior Court set forth.

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