Many times the parent who is considered the primary caretaker assumes that he or she will automatically become the primary custodial parent. In Pennsylvania, this is no longer the case.
Today, in Pennsylvania, thanks to a fairly new statute, being the primary caretaker is no longer considered a deciding factor in determining custodial arrangements. There was a recent case in Pennsylvania that basically said this is no longer really a factor, it’s something that can be looked at but it’s obviously not as important as it used to be. Many years ago, the “the tender years doctrine,” that essentially said custody of a young child usually went with the stay-at-home spouse. That was removed some time ago by the concept of primary caretaker. A few years ago, the legislature adopted a statute that lists 16 different factors to determine who gets custody of the children. The factors range from which parent is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact with the other parent to the mental and physical health of each party.
"This emphasizes why you really need a lawyer to figure out what factors apply in your case and to advocate on your behalf.