Child custody in Pennsylvania and nationwide is legally a two-way street. Both mothers and fathers start out with equal rights when they get involved in child custody disputes or agreed custody arrangements. Although the spotlight most often falls on the struggles and achievements of the single mother, single fathers also exist, and they sometimes step forth to exert all or most of the parenting duties over their children.
One example of that phenomenon was recently highlighted in a feature article in a major newspaper. One unmarried father is shown to be exercising custodial care almost exclusively over three of his children and partial custody rights over the fourth child. He has managed to successfully be available and involved intimately in the apparently successful social and educational development of his children.
He demonstrates by his active involvement in the lives of his children why a father’s role can be just as significant and important as the mother’s. This single father at the same time helps to care for his grandfather, who has dementia, and his grandmother. The Beacon, New York, apartment that he inhabits with his children is just steps away from the residence of his grandparents.
He tells a story of always being a big brother or the man with the helping hand, a role that he obviously craves and performs handily. He has one other goal: to go back to school and get his degree. In all of these ways, he strives to be a good role model to his children.
Additionally, despite suffering three smashed disks in a warehouse accident, he has continued working in a counselor-type position instead of collecting disability payments. At this time, he gets assistance in the form of food stamps and $910 each month from the mother of the three oldest children. Courts nationwide, including in Pennsylvania, are recognizing more and more the valuable role that the father may play in child custody situations, including in the capacity of being the primary custodian.
Source: The New York Times, “Single Father Embraces His Role With Pride“, John Otis, Jan. 15, 2015