4 Myths About Child Custody

Getting a divorce is challenging for a lot of reasons, but custody disputes are quite possibly the most stressful proceedings you will have to go through. As much as we might like to convince ourselves otherwise, it is not necessarily up to us to assign custody of our children after the divorce. The court will make this decision after evaluating which parent will be able to provide for the child's best interests. This week, the team at Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C. is here to dispel some common myths about custody disputes.

Myth #1: Moms Get Preferential Treatment.
This is quite possibly the most widely believed myth about custody disputes - probably because it used to be true. Decades ago, the courts believed that mothers could provide better care to their children than the fathers could, and custody was assigned accordingly.

Today, however, this ruling has changed drastically. Stay-at-home dads are becoming increasingly common, and there is no evidence claiming that mothers are better parents than fathers. Missouri law specifically prohibits the court from giving a preference to either parent because of that parent's age, sex or financial status.  Consequently, today's divorce courts objectively evaluate each unique situation to determine how to assign custody.

Myth #2: Joint Custody Means Equal Share Of The Children.
Typically, custody is assigned in one of two ways: "sole" or "joint." Many people assume that joint custody means both parents will get to share equal custody of the children, but this is not necessarily the case. The children may live with one parent primarily, depending on parent's work and the children's school requirements. The other parent will also have custodial rights and even where custody is split 50/50, one parent may be required to pay child support as dictated by the court.

Myth #3: The Children Get To Choose Where To Live.
As previously stated, the court is the one who chooses where the children will live. They will make this decision by weighing many different factors in order to determine which parent will be able to provide the best environment for the kid(s). The court may get input from the children and use it to make a decision, but only if the children are old enough to be able to clearly articulate reasons for wanting to live with one parent over the other.

Myth #4: The Custodial Parent Can Withhold Visitation Rights If The Other Parent Refuses To Pay Child Support.
Contrary to popular belief, child support, visitation rights, and custody are three separate issues. While they certainly interrelate, you cannot use one as a threat against another. If the non-custodial parent refuses (or neglects) to pay child support as ordered by the court, he/she can be held in contempt of court. However, he/she cannot be denied visitation rights directly by the custodial parent. If you are not receiving the child support payments that you should be, contact your Lake of the Ozarks family attorney to determine what your proper course of action should be.

Custody Issues? Contact Our Team!
Custody disputes can be challenging, confusing, and stressful, but you don't have to face them alone! Contact one of our experienced family attorneys at the Lake of the Ozarks for help navigating this challenge. We will be happy to help you in any way we can!

Law Offices of Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C.
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