QUESTION: “How can I (a father) increase my chances of being awarded the primary custody of my children?”
Pennsylvania family court determines custody based on 16 custody factors that are written into Pennsylvania family law. These factors are listed in our article “The 16 Factors That Will Make or Break a Father’s PA Custody Case”.
These factors help the judge determine which parent (mother or father) is best able to meet the needs of the child. Knowing these factors can help you to improve your chances of being awarded custody. These tips can help.
- Respect your child’s mother. The way you treat your child’s mother affects your child; it also affects your Pennsylvania custody case. No matter how you feel about your ex, be polite and respectful.
- Pay your child support payments. Paying child support on time shows that you care about your child’s well-being. Keep the cancelled check as proof of payment. If you are struggling to make payments, pay what you are able to and request a modification to the child support order.
- Build a day-to-day relationship with your child. Do you know what your child does each day? Make it a habit to call your child and check in. Offer to drill your child on spelling words or to take her to the library to get books for her book report. Let her know that she can contact you if she needs anything. If possible, get involved in your child’s school or some of your child’s after-school activities.
- Make visitation a priority. Keep records of the time that you spend with your child. Sticking to a visitation schedule shows that your child is a priority.
- Attend school functions and other important events. Sitting through two hours of a ballet recital so you can see a two minute performance may seem like a waste of your time. To your child, the recital is a big deal. The court sees attendance at events like school plays, basketball games, ballet recitals, first communion, and birthday parties as evidence of a meaningful relationship.
- Make space for your child. Does your child sleep on the couch in your one-bedroom apartment? You should show that your life has room for your child, even if it is just a small space. Be prepared to discuss housing plans with the judge.
- Have a plan. How will you change your life if your child lives with you? Have a written plan that includes living accommodations, education, time with friends, after-school activities and financial matters.
- Be honest. Can you realistically handle full time parenting? Will you job allow you to be there for your child? If you don’t have the time to parent full-time, shared custody a better option than full custody,
The best thing you can do to help your child custody case is to develop and maintain a strong relationship with your child. Fortunately, this also the best thing you can do for your child.
We understand that every situation is different. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping each of our clients find the solution that works for their family. If you would like to discuss your own situation with a Pennsylvania child custody attorney, please call Petrelli Previtera at 215-523-6900.