Fathers in Pennsylvania have the same rights as mothers when it comes to custody and visitation. In most cases, fathers are given equal time with their children. However, there are some cases where fathers may not be awarded custody or visitation. If you are a father facing this situation, here’s what you need to know about your rights and what you do to protect them.
Child custody and support rules in Pennsylvania
Mothers and fathers are treated as equal under the law. It is illegal for the court to discriminate against a parent based on sex or gender. This means that it is not typical for the mother to always get custody. When you go to court or a mediator, you should be on equal footing against the mother unless there’s a good reason.
Establishing paternity in Pennsylvania
Before you head to court to fight for your rights as a father, you will need to prove your paternity. In Pennsylvania, the court can determine paternity voluntarily or involuntarily. In voluntary paternity, the court doesn’t rely on the birth certificate as proof since the mother can put anyone’s name on that document. In addition to a DNA test, the court will consider the following when establishing father’s rights:
- The court must get an idea of the kind of relationship you had with the child.
- You must accept your child, i.e., you must welcome the child and openly call them your own.
- You must agree to support the child and legitimize your name on the birth certificate.
- You must attest to parenthood.
On the other hand, involuntary paternity mainly relies on DNA testing. This can be helpful when the child is just born and you don’t have time to prove your parenting skills.
When going through a divorce, you can sit down with the mother of your child and agree on custody, visitation and support issues in order to write it down in a formal document and submit it to court. However, if you can’t agree, the court will step in.
There are many factors that Pennsylvania courts consider when establishing custody, but the most important one is the child’s best interest. If it’s in your child’s best interest to have a strong relationship with you, you must make sure that everyone respects and upholds your right as a father.