Rotating Custody of a Toddler

A Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that it is appropriate to order weekly rotating custody of a 15 month old child. Ruling in the case of Johnson v. Lewis, 2005 PA Super 86 (March 4, 2005), the court stressed that both parents had been actively involved in the child’s life from birth. The court acknolwedged that the mother had been the primary caretaker for the child but noted that, from the time the child was four months old, he had spent at least eight hours of each weekday in secondary child care.

The [trial] court found, based on its opportunity to observe the parties’ testimony and demeanor, that father is a caring and capable custodian. It could further reasonably have found that [the child] would benefit from increased paternal contact more than he would suffer psychologically from decreased contact with his mother. Also, there is reason from the record to be troubled over the child’s safety in mother’s care [because of injuries the child sustained while with his mother]. The court was within its broad discretion to find that these factors, which favored shared custody, outweighed mother’s status as primary caretaker.

The Superior Court also noted that, because of different work schedules and child care arrangements, the child might actually spend more time with his parent during those weeks he lived with his Dad than during those weeks he lived with his Mom.