Disputing custody of a child is one of the hardest experiences a person can go through. Fighting for the right to see your child, managing the stress of court hearings and managing the financial aspect of the divorce and legal proceedings are all a challenge.
It can be even harder when you don’t know what to expect or don’t know whether what you’ve heard on the street is actually true. Conventional wisdom often makes it seem like the end result of a custody battle is a foregone conclusion, when nothing is further from the truth. To put your mind at ease and help alleviate at least some of your stress during this trying time, let’s debunk five of the most common myths about custody:
- Women are given preferential treatment: While there are cases where women have been favored by judges, this is not always the case and every year it is getting better for men in this regard. Many of the stereotypes associated with gender have colored decisions about who should be granted custody, but in modern society, these are playing less of a role. Under most judges, men have just as much of a chance to gain custody as women, assuming all other factors are equal.
- During equally shared custody, no child support payments are necessary: Many believe that if custody is shared equally between couples that there will be no legal obligation for either party to pay for child support. This is not the case, however, as there are a wide range of factors that will determine who ends up being liable for child support. Income is the main determining factor, as well as specific country/state laws and a host of other determinants.
- Parental Alienation Syndrome is widely recognized: While this issue does come up frequently in custody cases, many don’t acknowledge its existence and the science behind it is unknown so whether a judge may recognize this condition will vary.
- Partners guilty of domestic abuse will always forfeit custody: Despite popular belief, examples have shown that partners who have been guilty of domestic abuse are still eligible to gain custody over the child. It may be a determining factor for many custody cases, but you can never assume that an abusive partner will automatically lose the custody hearing.
- The child’s opinion is weighted higher than anything: Children are not always the most reliable witnesses, and emotions are running high for them during divorce proceedings as well. They can often hold a distorted perception of who is the “better” parent. Therefore, their opinion is just one of the many factors taken into consideration when determining custody and won’t necessarily hold a higher weight than others.
Hopefully this list has helped you dispel some of the more common custody myths that surround divorce. Remember that this is a very complex situation and many possible reasons determine who is likely to receive custody of the child. No matter what, don’t give up hope!