PA fathers disproportionately impacted by custody ruling says New Dads’ Resource Center study

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The Dads’ Resource Center (DRC) has concluded that the distribution of time children are assigned to their parents in divorce proceedings by Courts of Commonwealth in 14 counties. It has found that the fathers are disproportionately impacted by the rulings. This study looked at 50 cases starting in 2016 for which the courts determined the final custody.

Out of 700 cases that were looked at, the average custody time per week to the mother was 116 hours and 52 hours to the father. Mothers received full or primary custody in 496 cases while fathers had full or primary custody in 100 cases. There were 104 cases where the parents had joint custody.

“Studies show that children develop best, and have the greatest chance for success in life, when both parents play an active role in their childhood,” states Jeff Steiner, DRC executive director.

“Despite Pennsylvania courts embracing the trend of joint physical custody, the outcomes of this study unfortunately support the belief that fathers all too often are not given the opportunity to provide the time and attention their children so desperately need from them and that they want to give.”

There is no presumption in favor of joint custody in Pennsylvania. The Superior Court has maintained that a presumption-free law allows lower courts to engage in full, fair and comprehensive examinations of the best interests of the child, without burdening the custodial parent with defending the status quo.

The best interests of the child should be give thorough and careful consideration of 16 factors that affect the safety of the child as determined by the Superior Court.

Of the 700 cases that were determined. 343 of them were awarded 132 hours a week to one parent and 36 hours a week to the other. The mother received the primary custody in 291 cases and the father 52. This is roughly represents every other weekend and one night a week in custody time.

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