Group tries to get Pennsylvania to take on equal parenting law
Activists are pressuring Pennsylvania lawmakers to consider reforming child custody laws in order to guarantee equal parenting time.
Equal parenting reforms spark heated debate among parents and experts
There are currently about 20 states that are considering bills that would make equal parenting the law following divorce. While Pennsylvania is not one of those states, the National Parents Organization (NPO) of Pennsylvania recently held a protest in Harrisburg to try to change that, according to FOX 43 News. The NPO, along with other supporters of equal parenting laws, argue that current law in Pennsylvania is biased against fathers and does not benefit children. They contend that making equal parenting the standard in child custody cases will work to the benefit of both parents and children. Critics, however, say that such laws could backfire and may not even be needed.
Equal parenting support
While Pennsylvania lawmakers have yet to tackle an equal parenting proposal, the topic is gaining traction nationwide, according to the Wall Street Journal. Current equal parenting proposals in various states all share the common goal of striving to give children equal time with both parents as much as possible. Many equal parenting bills also propose creating a legal presumption that courts must follow that a 50-50 split in parenting time is in a child’s best interests, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.
Supporters of such laws say that current child custody laws are inherently biased against fathers. They claim that judges are more likely to award custody to mothers due to personal and social biases. They also point out that studies have shown that children tend to suffer fewer behavioral problems if both parents maintain a presence in their lives.
Critics of equal parenting laws, however, say that such proposals are misguided. They point out that state law, including in Pennsylvania, already forbids custody from being awarded based on a parent’s gender. Rather, current custody law is designed exclusively to prioritize the child’s best interests, which in some cases may mean joint custody or it may mean sole custody in other cases depending on each family’s unique circumstances.
Critics say that by requiring judges to order equal parenting time in almost all custody disputes then children will be put at a disadvantage since the focus will instead be on parental rights. They also point out that although it is true that most children benefit from being raised by both parents, there are also plenty of examples where the animosity between parents has grown so extreme that equal parenting could actually harm a child’s development. Judges, they say, should have the discretion to tailor custody orders to the unique circumstances of each family in order to ultimately protect the child’s best interests.
There is a lot at stake in any family law case, but especially so if questions surrounding child custody arise. Parents understandably want to protect their relationship with their children, which is why it is so important to reach out to a family law attorney for help with child custody issues. The right attorney can help parents, including fathers, maintain a valuable presence in their child’s life.
Keywords: divorce, child, custody, parenting, time