What Rights Does a Father Have in Pennsylvania?

By Sharon Harleigh

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The fundamental right of a parent to child is a basic human right. Fathers have traditionally not had equal rights to their children, but the father's rights movement has strengthened over the years. Parenting is an important responsibility as well as a legal right. A father has 50 percent of the custodial rights to a child in Pennsylvania and, as a result, has a number of other basic rights related to the child as well.

Child Custody

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Traditionally, child custody has been given to the mother except in cases where the mother can be shown to be unfit as a parent, or has voluntarily relinquished custody of the minor child. In Pennsylvania, current court rulings support a father's equal right to child custody and will grant joint custody in situations where both parents are willing and capable custodians.

Read More: How to Get Child Support With No Custody Agreement

Visitation Rights

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In Pennsylvania, a father who does not have sole or joint custody of the minor will be granted visitation rights unless it can be shown that visitation is detrimental or not in the best interests of the child.


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Should a mother decide to put the child up for adoption, Pennsylvania law now allows the father of the child a right to contest this decision. A father can petition the court for sole custody of the child should the mother wish to relinquish her rights to the child entirely, as in the case of adoption.

Child Support

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Child support has been traditionally considered a father's responsibility, but with the development of equality of rights for fathers, mothers are now required to pay child support in those circumstances where the father has primary custody of the child or the mother has more financial means to provide support.