Common Custody Myths and Misconceptions

At Family Matters Law Group, we’ve spoken to many clients who are worried because of something they’ve always heard was true or something a friend or relative told them. We don’t mind because one of the biggest reasons to hire a family attorney is to have an expert in your corner, someone who can tell you the true facts.

When it comes to custody cases, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Let’s take a look at three of the most common misconceptions that people have.

Myth #1: I have no shot because I haven’t been around.

We all know life happens. It’s good that you acknowledge you haven’t been as big a part of your child’s life as you could have been. But, the question is, are you willing to step up now?

The court can order a graduated parenting schedule to reintroduce a parent (who is willing to do the work) back into a child’s life. In a graduated parenting schedule, you may start with supervised visits, then work up to short unsupervised visits, which can then lead to overnight or weekend visits.

This approach not only gives a parent a chance to prove to the court that they are suitable for custody but also helps to gradually acclimate parent and child to a new relationship.

Be proactive as far as the reasons why you have missed out. If you have been in rehab, be prepared to show proof of sobriety. If you have had mental health issues, show proof of treatment. Been in trouble with the law?  Show proof of employment, stable housing, and get recommendation letters.

Myth #2: It’s All About the Money

The court is interested in placing children in the environment where they will be safe, healthy, and cared for. The judge is not interested in which parent makes the most money or who will spoil the children the most.

Think about the welfare of the child before you start worrying about finances. For example, if the other parent makes more money, but also happens to live in a dangerous neighborhood or has background issues, the money is not the most important factor.

One example of a time when money would be a major factor is if one parent is unable to financially take care of the child, even with child support factored in. In a case like that, it would be important to discuss options with a family attorney.

Also, in a related money issue, if you are seeking custody in order to change your child support obligations, you are bound to lose your case. Most judges do not see this as a valid reason for a custody change. The parent who wins custody is often the parent who is thinking about what’s best for the child, not what’s best for their bottom line.

Myth #3: The Mother Always Wins

Admit it: you were already thinking this was true. It’s not. At the start of a custody case, both parents start with 50/50 odds to win the case. Both parents are on equal footing. As the case goes on, the court hears evidence that one parent should receive primary custody.

The most important consideration for the custody judge is the welfare of the child. Anything that detracts from that or could potentially hurt the child is going to make the other parent look more capable of being the child’s primary caregiver. A parent can indeed lose custody over such issues as criminal background and substance abuse issues.

The good news: the past is the past. Unless you have something violent or very serious in your background (such as child abuse or a sexual conviction), the court will want to see how you have put your previous issues in the back seat.

You Need a Strong Family Attorney On Your Side

It’s not a myth: an experienced, caring family attorney can make a huge difference in your custody case. They can help you with damage control, and they can help you make the best appearance to a custody judge.

If you’re near Clayton or Henry counties (or any other metro Atlanta county), you should contact the Family Matters Law Group for help with your custody case. It’s simple: just use our convenient online contact form. We’ll put the myths to rest, and give you solid information about your case that you can trust. We look forward to hearing from you.