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Pennsylvania fathers' rights: Do dads get a fair shot?

When it comes to custody and visitation, plenty of Pennsylvania fathers do not feel that they get a fair shot. Why? Don't fathers' right exist so that they can gain access to their children?

Yes. Fathers' rights do exist, but it does not mean that the court will always grant dads the custody or visitation schedules they want or deserve. Thankfully, this attitude toward fathers is slowly changing. But many still have to fight for acceptable custody or visitation terms.

Gaining custody or visitation schedules is easier for fathers going through the divorce process than those who have children out of wedlock. As long as there is no history of abuse, there is generally no need to establish paternity, and custody or visitation terms can be negotiated and included in a divorce agreement. For unwed fathers things are a bit more complicated as establishing paternity is a must.

After the paternity issue is addressed -- if applicable -- fathers can then pursue custody or visitation orders or modifications by filing the appropriate petitions in court. In some cases, such arrangements may be negotiated out of court between parents; in others, a judge will get to decide how it will all work. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what will serve the best interests of the affected child.

There are studies that show the positive impact fathers have on the lives of their children. As such, shared custody or increased visitation time is preferred when deemed appropriate. However, gaining any level of custody or visitation or seeking changes to existing orders can be a bit of an uphill battle. An experienced attorney who focuses on fathers' rights can assist those in Pennsylvania who are struggling to gain access to their children. With the right help, dads can fight for fair treatment.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Visitation, Child Custody and Unmarried Fathers", Accessed on May 23, 2017

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