Child Custody -Top 3 child custody myths
Myth #1: When a child reaches a certain age (I’ve heard everything from 14 to 17), they get to choose what parent to live with.
While it’s true that the court will take the preference of a child into account when making a custody decision, there is no magical age where the child gets to make the choice for themselves. The courts will, however, weigh the choice of an older child more seriously than a younger child. The wishes of a child are simply one factor among many in making a custody determination.
Myth #2: The judge cares that your ex is a “psycho.”
If I had a dollar for every client who described their ex as a “psycho…”. Trouble for them is that most of the behavior they describe has little or nothing to do with a custody determination. The legal standard is the best interest of the children. If the behavior does not affect the children directly, or the parent’s ability to parent, it is legally irrelevant. So go ahead and tell the judge that your ex is “obsessed with your new relationship” and see how far that gets you in a custody matter. Now sometimes a parent acts in a way that does affect the children, especially if the behavior is alienating a child from the other parent. If that can be proven to the court, then the behavior will be relevant and useful.
Myth #3: If I get an order of protection against my ex, then my ex will lose their parenting time automatically.
An order of protection is used often in family matters -- sometimes legitimately and sometimes, unfortunately, as a legal tactic. If the order of protection is to protect YOU, then it does not affect the other parent’s rights to see their children. In order to legally strip a parent of his or her rights, the juvenile court must make that determination. My suggestion to my clients is to never use the juvenile court system or Child Protective Services as a tactic against another parent. People justify doing this all the time. This is one of the worst things a person can do to another, and it almost always has a negative impact on the children.
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