Common Myths of Child Custody
Child custody conflicts are inherently emotionally-charged disputes. Perhaps this is the reason that child support as an area of law is full of myths and misconceptions. Here are some of the most common myths surrounding child custody and the truth behind them.
- If We Have Joint Custody, the Kids Will Be with Us Equally
In most custody arrangements (indeed, when possible), children are going to reside with one parent on a day-to-day basis and the other parent will retain rights to visitation as well as responsibilities for support. The term “joint custody” does not indicate what fraction of time will or will not be spent with either parent in and of itself.
- Mothers Always Get Custody of Children
While it is easy assume that there is a gender bias in child custody issues, the reality is much more complicated. Courts do tend to favor maintaining the status quo in order to protect the stability of children’s lives. In some cases in which one spouse was the primary caregiver for the children during the marriage, courts will lean towards maintaining that arrangement after the marriage is dissolved. While historically, this may have led to mothers receiving custody of children more frequently than fathers, any gender gap that does currently exist is closing fast, particularly as parents adopt new divisions of responsibilities for children.
- My Kids Will Get to Pick
Many courts, including those in Florida, will inquire about the wishes of the children when the judge deems it appropriate, often taking into consideration the children’s age, maturity, and rationale for why they may prefer primarily living with one parent over the other. But how much weight is assigned to the children’s opinion is entirely within the realm of the judge’s discretion.
- The Parent That Gets More Money/More Alimony/The Family Home Gets the Kids
Of course, courts will include whether individual parents are financially able to support caring for the children and where and how the children will be housed in their calculus. But there is no magic ticket to receiving primary custody, and reliance on one may result in a spouse unexpectedly receiving an undesirable outcome.
- After One Look at My Tattoo/Occupation/Religion, I Will Be Denied Custody
Personal appearance and a spouse’s ability to present themselves as a responsible and productive adult will certainly affect the court’s decision as far as it informs them of the spouse’s ability to provide appropriately for children. But in most cases, factors like these will not be used to automatically deny a spouse custody or visitation rights.
- I Should Not Retain an Attorney
If you are going through a custody dispute, you may believe that retaining an attorney is not the right choice for you. You may believe you cannot afford representation, that legal counsel will only escalate the conflict, or that an attorney will not be able to assist you in working towards your desired outcome. But in most cases, retaining an attorney in child custody disputes is the best way to protect your parental rights. If you are navigating child custody issues, consider contacting Schwartz | White in Boca Raton at 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.