If you are getting a divorce and have children with your spouse, you will have to come to a child custody agreement at some point. There are still many misunderstandings regarding custody arrangements. Here are some common misconceptions about child custody that you should not believe.
Children Can Decide Which Parent to Live With
No, children actually can’t choose which parent they want to live with. If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, the judge will make the decision. However, a judge may listen to older children about who they prefer to live with. The judge may consider the child’s preference only if both parents are equally qualified to get custody.
The Mother Always Receives Custody
Times have changed, so the mother does not automatically win custody. The judge will look at the best interests of the child when deciding custody. For example, the judge may favor the parent who was the primary caregiver of the child during the marriage.
You Can Withhold Visitation if the Other Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support
If the other parent fails to pay you child support on time, you have a right to feel frustrated. However, that does not mean that you should withhold visitation from your ex. The judge will frown on that and may even change the custody arrangement. Instead, inform your lawyer that the other parent hasn’t been paying child support.
Only Parents Can Receive Custody of a Child
This is not true either. Although courts prioritize keeping children with their parents, sometimes it is not best for the child. For example, if both parents have abused or neglected a child, the court may grant custody to another relative, like a grandparent.
You Have to Go to Court to Get Child Custody
This is another common myth about child custody. It’s actually very possible to settle your custody case without ever stepping foot into a courtroom. For example, you and your spouse can come to a custody agreement on your own. Then, your lawyer can draft a legal document for you both to sign. If you and your spouse are having trouble coming to an agreement, a mediator can step in and try to help you come to a mutual agreement.