When it comes to divorce, your children’s ongoing well-being is naturally your primary concern. As such, most divorcing parents have serious misgivings when it comes to the court determining their child custody arrangements. If you and your divorcing spouse cannot hammer out a child custody agreement between you, however, the court will do it for you. When it comes to child custody, there’s a lot of misinformation out there that you lead you astray. Understanding common child custody myths will help better prepare you for what you should expect regarding your child custody arrangements. If you have child custody concerns, consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney today.
Nothing about divorce is easy, but child custody concerns are undeniably the most difficult component of all. The fact is, however, that if you and your divorcing spouse can come to terms regarding the important elements of child custody, you retain the power to make your own custody decisions and to pave your own way forward. These elements generally include:
- Which parent your children will primarily live with
- The other parent’s visitation schedule
- Whether both of you (or one of you) will make the important decisions (related to education, health care, and religion) on behalf of your children
- Who will pay child support – and in what amount
Myth 1: I Will Have Full Custody of My Children
In the State of Texas, parents are not awarded full custody in the sense you probably understand it. Instead, custody is based on conservatorship (who has the right and the responsibility to make important decisions related to education, health care, and religious upbringing on the children’s behalves) and possession and access (when the children are in the care of which parent). Texas presumes – except in extreme situations – that it is in the best interest of the children to spend time with both parents and for both parents to share in decision-making responsibilities. The court generally tends to adhere to the family’s status quo, which typically means that the parent who’s been the primary caregiver will provide the children with their primary home and that the other parent will have a visitation schedule.
Myth 2: If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Child Support, He or She Won’t Be Allowed Visitation
Many people are confused about the connection between child support payments and the right to visitation. The fact is, however, that there is no such connection. These are completely separate but equally important issues. If your spouse is not paying child support, you have legal recourse but withholding visitation in retaliation leaves you in contempt of court. The same is true if your spouse is withholding visitation from you – you have legal recourse, but you cannot retaliate by not paying the child support you owe. In either scenario, the parent who’s determined to be in contempt will be required not only to rectify the situation but also to pay the other parent’s legal fees.
Myth 3: Getting Married Will Help My Custody Case
If you are facing a custody battle (with someone you aren’t married to) and you happen to be engaged, you may think that moving forward with marriage will be in your favor, but this is not the case. The Texas Family Code specifically addresses this issue and maintains that marital status is not a factor in the determination of child custody issues. The State of Texas lends no credence to the idea that a married parent is superior to a single parent, and as such, Texas courts do not favor married parents over single parents in the determination of custody issues.
Myth 4: The Mother Always Gets Primary Custody
While there are more mothers with primary custody than there are fathers with primary custody in Texas, this does not mean that fathers have no chance of obtaining primary custody. Texas Family Code also designates that courts may not factor the sex of the parents into child custody cases. The court’s sole motivation is the best interests of the children, and this is what guides it’s determinations as they relate to child custody arrangements. Because mothers are often the parent who provides the majority of childcare, mothers tend to be awarded primary custody – and thus, provide the children’s primary residence. This has less to do with the parent being the mother and more to do with maintaining the children’s status quo.
While on the topic of status quo, it’s worth mentioning that if you are going through a divorce and are considering moving out of your family home in an effort to help keep the peace, you may want to reconsider. By moving out of your home (even if your children’s well-being is your motivation), the court may consider this arrangement the new status quo and be more inclined to allow your divorcing spouse to remain in the home – and for the home to remain your children’s primary residence – post-divorce. In other words, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to obtaining child custody arrangements that support you and your children’s best interests.
Every child custody case is unique to its own unique set of circumstances. A dedicated Houston family law attorney will help ensure that you and your children’s rights are well protected throughout the divorce process and beyond. Additionally, a skilled family lawyer may be able to help you and your spouse find middle ground in your negotiations. The more decisions that you can hammer out between yourselves, the fewer in which you’ll have to forfeit decision-making power to the court.
If You Have Child Custody Concerns, You Need an Experienced Houston Family Lawyer on Your Side
Don’t allow yourself to be misled by the child custody myths floating around out there. The dedicated legal team at The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, is here to help ensure that you obtain favorable child custody arrangements. Our experienced family law attorneys have the knowledge, compassion, and commitment to bring your case to a favorable resolution. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 713-781-7775 for a free consultation today.