Common Misunderstandings About Child Custody Agreements
Divorce proceedings are made more difficult when children are involved. Each parent has so much at stake when it comes to custody agreements. A common solution to child custody disputes is to settle on joint custody, while other cases may lead to a more complicated solution. However, there are a few issues that commonly cause some confusion when it comes to finding a middle ground.
Many believe that joint custody means a child must spend equal time with each parent. However, this is not the case. The court will usually give custody to the parent that is better equipped to raise the child primarily. This is the parent that will have the time and the resources to give the child the attention they will need. The other parent will have a set visitation schedule and the child will visit them on a regular basis. In the past, there seemed to be a custody agreement pattern that involved a child living with the mother and visiting with the father every other weekend. This arrangement was founded on outdated family models, where the mother either stayed at home or worked locally. In our present time, women are now working outside the home and doing the same jobs that men were doing 20-30 years ago. Fortunately, the courts have noticed this shift in family dynamics and will now work with the parent’s schedules to arrange the perfect agreement for each case.
Another widely believed child custody misunderstanding is that the mother is considered the primary caretaker. As stated above, the lines of caretaker have been blurred, as some fathers choose to stay home and more mothers are pursuing busy professional careers. Now days, when the court needs to decide who will take over the primary care taking roles, it will ask what has been the specific family’s normal routine?
The validity of a child’s wishes when it comes to a custody agreement is another area of misunderstanding. Some believe that the judge will always take the children’s wishes into consideration, but this is not always the case. First, the judge will question if the child is “of sufficient age and capacity of reason.” In most states, if a child is over the age of 14, they are allowed to voice their wishes in court. This does not mean that the judge must consider them. There could be a number of reason why a child’s wishes should not be followed. Perhaps, one parent has manipulated them into speaking in their favor or the child knows one parent will let them get away with more. Usually, a judge will have a court mediator talk to a child that wishes to express their custody concerns.
Each child custody case must be approached differently, as every family is different. The judge will want to do what is in the best interest of the child, whether it is what both sides want or not.