My wife and I are headed for a divorce. For reasons I won’t get into here, she is very angry about our divorce. I want joint custody of our children, but she wants full custody. She believes that because she is the mother and was a stay at home mom, the court will give her full custody. She only wants me to be able to visit the kids a couple of times a month. Yes, she stayed home with our children and took care of them while I was at work, but I spend time with my kids as soon as I get home from work and on the weekends. I also go to my kids’ events, games, etc., as much as I can. Even though we are divorcing, I believe that our children need us both. Will she get full custody just because she was a stay at home mom?
Answer by a Doylestown Custody Lawyer
It is not true that your soon to be ex-wife will get full custody of your children just because she was a stay at home mom. Pursuant to Pennsylvania custody law, courts determine custody issues based on what is in the best interest of the child. In order to determine what is in the best interest of a child, courts will consider 16 factors provided by custody law. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
- The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life.
- Which parent is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
- Which parent is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
- The proximity of the residences of the parties.
Your wife believes that she is entitled to full custody because she handles more of the parental duties, which certainly is a factor. However, this factor is merely one of 16 factors Pennsylvania family courts consider when determining custody. Each of the 16 factors is given equal weight, except for the ones that might affect the safety or welfare of a child.
The fact of the matter is that because of your job, you may not be able to perform as many parental duties as your wife. However, it sounds like you are more likely to encourage and permit continuing contact between your wife and children even after the divorce. Thus, the courts will consider all of the factors to determine custody. For a list of all 16 factors, see How Custody is Decided in a Doylestown Custody Case.