QUESTION: “My wife has been cheating on me. I want to leave her, but I’m worried that I won’t get custody of our kids. Are the courts still reluctant to grant child-custody to fathers?”

For many fathers, the hardest part of a divorce is not being a daily part of their children’s lives. They assume that the mother will automatically receive custody. But, this isn’t always true.

Pennsylvania courts no longer assume that the mother is the parent who is equipped to care for the children.  Instead, the courts focus on 16 custody factors. They use these factors to determine the custody arrangement that will be most beneficial to the child.

16 Factors PA Courts Consider When Awarding Custody

  • Is one parent more likely to permit and encourage the child to spend time with the other parent?
  • Is the parent or a member of the parent’s household abusive? Does the parent or a member of the parent’s household have a history of abuse?  Is there a risk of abuse to the child? Can one parent better protect the child from abuse?
  • How are the parental duties for the child currently divided? What does each parent do for the child?
  • Will living with one parent disrupt the need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, extra-curricular activities, and family life?
  • How available is the child’s extended family?
  • What are the child’s sibling relationships?
  • Does the child have a reasonable preference (based on the child’s maturity and judgment)?
  • Has one parent tried to turn the child against the other parent (except in cases of domestic violence)?
  • Is one parent more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship that meets the child’s emotional needs?
  • Is one parent more likely to provide for the day-to-day physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child?
  • What is the distance between the parents’ households?
  • What is the parent’s availability to care for the child or to provide appropriate child-care?
  • Is there conflict between the parents? Are the parents willing and able to cooperate?
  • Does a parent or a member of the parent’s household have a history of drug or alcohol abuse?
  • Does a parent or a member of the parent’s household have a physical disability, illness or mental illness that would affect the child’s care?
  • Are there any other relevant factors?

There is rarely a perfect solution, so judges must take all these factors into account.

The best way to help your custody case is to be the best parent you can be. To discuss your child custody case with a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer, please call Petrelli Previtera at 215-523-6900.