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The unequal single parent challenges

Seeking and obtaining child custody and assuring just and reasonable child support in Pennsylvania can raise many legal issues. But single fathers and mothers may also confront unique problems and inequities after divorce and during custody. Perceptions among the courts and other parents concerning single parenting may need to change because of progress in gender equality, single fathers seeking more custody rights and to assure the best interests of the children.

Fathers may often have to overcome more obstacles for their custody rights. The presumption that mothers are entitled to primary custody is declining but still exists.

However, fathers face lower expectations for parenting. Mothers are held responsible to provide for all of the children's daily needs as a single parent even though they may be a full-time worker and receive little financial support. On the other hand, single fathers often receive praise for any involvement with their children and receive more assistance from other parents and organizations.

Along with these lower expectations for fathers, single mothers are often considered as being the parent who is most qualified to perform the routine but important responsibilities such as grocery shopping, providing meals, attending teacher-parent conferences or taking the children to lessons or the doctor. They are expected to perform these tasks while assuring home and car repairs are made. Fathers can and should also assume these duties.

Despite more equal employment opportunities, perceptions also still exist that fathers have to provide all the financial support for their children while mothers may remain a stay-at-home parent without employment or income responsibilities. Both parents, however, should assume equal responsibility to provide for their children's everyday expenses and other needs such as their health care and education.

Legal representation may help assure that family courts in Pennsylvania do not succumb to these outdated perceptions and provide for custody and support orders that protect parent's rights and serve their children's' interests. A lawyer can assist single parents overcome inequities with supporting their children.

Source: Huffington Post, "Inequities in single parenting," Leah Dillon, Aug. 5, 2016

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