Berman & Asbel, LLP

Parenting is not "equal" and neither is child custody

Child custody cases in Pennsylvania result when parents can no longer raise their child or children in a shared environment. The specifics of each case are unique to the personalities and circumstances of that particular family. There are a wide range of considerations that can come into play, and each family will have their own unique considerations. Family law in most states is written to accommodate these differences, and family court judges are given a great deal of legal leeway in deciding issues of child custody.

One major opposing viewpoint is that the law should reflect the realities of family life. While living together, it is very common for one parent to provide the majority of care for the children while the other works outside the home. Even when both parents work, it is common knowledge that there are very few families in which child rearing is truly 'equal' or 'shared.' To impose a new schedule of equal parenting time following a divorce would upset the structure that the child or children have come to expect.

Not only could shared or equal custody threaten a child's stability, in some circumstances it would be utterly preposterous. In case in which one parent is simply ill-equipped to parent, or has issues with violence or substance abuse, forcing shared custody simply does not make sense. The best interest of the child should always be the standard for child custody determinations, and forcing an 'equal' arrangement is rarely the best solution.

For Pennsylvania parents who are involved in a child custody proceeding, it is imperative to fully understand the statutes and courtroom procedures in your state. If there are circumstances in your case that make shared custody a poor fit, these issues must be raised in court, and solidly documented. When it comes to the care and control of children, their interests should come before those of the parents, even if the resulting arrangement is not equal.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Why Equal Child Custody Should Not Be Presumed," Henry Gornbein, Aug. 29, 2012

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