Do Fathers Have Equal Rights During Divorce?

parenting time


My wife, who field for the divorce, wants me to sign papers agreeing to pay child support and give up any chance of gaining full or 50/50 custody of our child.

I’ve refused in the past, but now she is withholding our daughter from me claiming she has more rights than I do.

Do I have equal rights as the father of my daughter during the divorce process and how do I go about enforcing those rights so I don’t lose time with my child?


While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

Where I do practice in Pennsylvania, there is no law that guarantees one parent additional rights over the other parent due to his or her gender. Instead, the court must make a custody determination based on the “best interests” of the child.

Pennsylvania divorce attorney William Phelan
Cordell & Cordell Pennsylvania divorce attorney William Phelan, IV

Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Section 5328, sets forth several factors the court must consider in doing a “best interests” analysis. While weighted consideration is to be given to the factors that pertain to the safety of the child, some of the elements reviewed by the court include the willingness of the parents to cooperate with one another and which parent is more likely to maintain a healthy relationship with the child for her emotional needs.

Sometimes custody cases can be worked out informally by the parties without intervention of the court. Yet if one parent is unreasonable and believes she is entitled to more than what the law affords to her, the other parent may need to look towards filing for custody with the court in order to protect his rights and so as to attain a custody order for the purpose of protecting such rights.

When seeking a custody order from the court, it may be emphasized that a work schedule should not be used to adversely affect one parent’s custodial rights, so long as proper arrangements have been put in place for the child’s care during the working period. See Murphy v. Hatala, 504 A.2d 917 (Pa.Super. 1986).

Yet having arrangements in place for child care when a parent is working is not dispositive in a custody case, as the court has to consider all of the aforementioned custody factors in coming to a final determination.

Due to the extremely sensitive and fact-specific nature of this situation, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who handles family law matters in your jurisdiction, such as Cordell & Cordell, to see how your state’s laws can help you with this serious situation. This type of attorney should be helpful in providing you specific assistance for your matter.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in Minnesota and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pennsylvania divorce lawyer William J. Phelan, IV, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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4 comments on “Do Fathers Have Equal Rights During Divorce?

    Fathers do not have equal rights in Ohio and especially Greene Co., Ohio. Their attitudes are stuck in the 1950’s and 60’s. Maybe somewhere mothers are discriminated against, but I do not know where that would be. I would like to see Cordell and Cordell lobby for equal right in Ohio so our laws would be more like those of Kentucky.

    I have been divorce sense April of this year but my ex wife got everything in the divorce the judge has given her spousal support for the rest of her life. I didnt get anything but half of her bills I tried to fire the Judge and he said that I can’t ! Why How can I do anything to get the house out of my name,it is killing my credit and she will not have enough money for the payments can I make the court see that this is not fair to me

    “there is no law that guarantees one parent additional rights over the other parent due to his or her gender.” History show us this is a foolish statement. Prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, most think “Jim Crow Laws” were pervasive throughout the US. In truth, they were highly localized to southern states. Yet with no laws on the books discriminating by skin color, racial discrimination constantly took place in northern states. If attorney Phelan would like to claim otherwise, I’ll buy his ticket, and ensure he gets a speaking slot at the next NAACP convention. Its how the law is practiced that counts, and by every single measurable statistic, fathers are discriminated in US Family Courts.

    Mother’s are discriminated in Family Court. Especially in instances of domestic violence, sex abuse(spousal and child).
    Do your research on this and get back to me. The research should be independent of course and not.from father’s rights or organizations based and biased. Note to help your search, look up mothers or……note to research, it doesn’t exist. The funding doesn’t exist for mothers. What?! Equality? Start research check also on children’s rights/ sexual abuse cases.

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