Even though 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, it's still usually a difficult process for both sides, especially if there are children involved. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation that exists around divorce and child custody. If you enter into a custody case in court unprepared, it could have a big impact on the final results. Here's a look at three of the most common myths about divorce custody, and why you're better enlisting the help of an attorney.
Myth #1: The mother always wins custody
It is true that mothers win sole custody at a far greater rate than fathers do — 68% to 88% of the time. But in most cases, if a father wants to be involved, he can get at least joint custody. In years gone by, the legal system may have skewed more towards mothers, but that was largely because it seemed like the default that the mother would get custody, so the father didn't even fight. Fathers today are more informed of their rights than ever (even more with the backing of an attorney), so don't always assume the mother will win.
Myth #2: Only a child's parent can get custody in court
Courts do indeed put an emphasis on keeping a child with the parents if at all possible, but there are circumstances where they will award custody to someone else. This is most often grandparents but can even be siblings, aunts/uncles, or other family members and friends. It's hard to establish that a parent shouldn't have custody, but it happens in cases of abuse, neglect, drug abuse, or imprisonment.
Myth #3: Visitation rights can be withheld over a lack of child support payment
This isn't just wrong, it could actually impact a custody agreement. If one parent purposely keeps a child from visiting the other for any reason, even non-payment of child support, the court could change the agreement in their favor. If you're not getting child support, contact your attorney. The judge will deal with any issues and punishments related to this.
In short, if you're going through a divorce and have a potential child custody issue, there's a lot of information out there — much of it wrong. Your best bet may be to contact a divorce custody attorney. They've been down this road before and know what to do. It's a stressful and emotional thing for the parents involved, but lawyers have seen it frequently.