Child custody can be a complex and emotionally charged affair. Because of this, a number of commonly held misconceptions surround the issue, which can make the process of determining custody arrangements especially sensitive.
Though these myths persist, no two child custody cases are the same. The factors specific to each case are the sole elements the court considers in order to determine a fair outcome. These misconceptions, as affecting as they may be, do not represent actual legal statutes or legislation.
These four common myths about child custody can be confusing for parents who want to understand their rights. Fortunately, they are untrue.
Myth #1: the courts typically favor one parent over another.
While many believe mothers are automatically granted custody, the courts typically award physical custody to whoever has assumed the role of the primary caregiver. As well, joint and split-custody arrangements, which are increasingly common, grant custody equally between two parents.
Myth #2: parents behind on child support forfeit parental visitation or custody.
The matters of child support and parent time or visitation are separate issues. It is unlawful to withhold either child support or visitation without court approval.
Myth #3: children can choose the parent with which they would prefer to live.
Because children of a divorce are not consenting adults, the courts determine custody arrangements according to what is deemed to be in their best interests. However, input from children over a certain age may come into consideration for the final decision, though parents should never attempt to turn children against or alienate the other parent.
Myth #4: custody agreements are permanent.
Circumstances shift over time. As family needs or situations change, parents may petition the court for changes in custody agreements should it become necessary or ideal for the children’s best interests.