Simply put, no custody laws in the United States give mothers preferential treatment when ordering a custody agreement. This common misconception comes from outdated statistics that put parental roles into two clear-cut categories: during their marriage, mothers were the primary caretakers of the children and fathers were the breadwinners who provided for the family.
Although parental roles have changed and varied during the past few decades, many divorcing couples still believe a child’s mother will have the upper hand in terms of custody. Dads sometimes think there’s no chance to argue for joint custody, which would allow them to share decision-making responsibilities and/or physical control of their children.
Unless one parent is deemed unfit for child custody, however, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey most often award parents joint physical and legal custody. Sole custody – when a child’s physical and legal rights are in the care of one “custodial” parent – is generally not recommended unless one parent is known to be a direct harm to the children. The court will consider factors including both parents’ living situations, past alcohol or drug use, and any history of abuse or neglect. Gender has nothing to do with a judge’s decision regarding custody.
Children and divorced parents often benefit from a joint custody arrangement over sole custody. Both parents can have active roles in their kids’ lives, and neither parent suffers the stress of single parenting.
What You Can Do
When developing a child custody agreement, your kids’ best interest is the most important consideration. Speak up to make sure your opinions are heard. That way, your attorneys or mediator and the court can make the most informed decisions possible.
If you have kids and you’ve decided to divorce your spouse, you likely have many questions about custody and support. Feel free to call (215) 523-6900 to discuss your situation. The lawyers at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel can answer all your questions and help you get on the right track to a great resolution.