Some Pennsylvania fathers may be afraid that they will face bias in family court when it comes to child custody. Indeed, some people stay in bad relationships because they are concerned about the legal and financial consequences of divorce, including child custody. For parents, spending more time away from their children may always be difficult. However, modern approaches to family law tend to strongly favor some form of joint custody or extensive visitation as long as there is no history of abuse or neglect. After all, studies have repeatedly affirmed that children benefit from a close relationship with both of their parents.
In the past, family court decisions were often based on social expectations of gender roles more than the individual case being considered. Mothers rarely worked outside of the home except for reasons of necessity, and they were often considered to be naturally more nurturing and appropriate parents. On the other hand, fathers’ contribution was considered to be largely financial rather than emotional. As a result, mothers were expected to hold primary custody and fathers to pay child support and exercise some visitation. Many beliefs about family court date back to this era even though present public policy focuses on various forms of shared custody that may fit a particular family.
Fathers may still face an old-fashioned judge, of course, and any parent can benefit from presenting themselves effectively in a child custody hearing. Maintaining communication with the other parent, even when personally difficult, can be important to re-establishing a co-parenting relationship and a positive environment for the children.
Parents who want to protect their relationship with their children should prepare for family court with positive evidence of their bond. A family law attorney may help a parent to secure a fair child custody agreement and parenting plan.