Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Common Myths About Child Custody Disputes

Child custody disputes can be some of the most hard-fought legal battles in the courts. And in the fog of war, a lot of misconceptions can spread. To be fair, the one constant throughout all child custody determinations is that courts or arbitrators will make their decisions based on the child's best interests. After that, custody will depend on a variety of factors, each of which may be unique to your case.

Even with all the misinformation out there, some child custody myths are more common than others, so here's an effort to clear those up:

1. Can Child Custody Decisions Be Based on Religiosity, Sexual History?

In a general sense, how religious or sexually active a parent is won't make or break a child custody decision. However, if a parent engages in high-risk sexual behavior that can endanger a child's well-being, those factors could come into play.

2. Can I Get Physical or Legal Custody of a Child If I'm Not the Parent?

Custody is not just for parents. While courts generally lean to joint custody arrangements that split time between biological parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, and other relatives can file for custody on the basis they can best provide for a child's well-being.

3. Can You Make a Child Custody Agreement out of Court?

You don't have to lay bare your divorce and private life in court to get custody of a child. While most child custody agreements must be ratified by a judge, those agreements can be negotiated between you and your ex, by your lawyers, or by a third-party mediator or arbitrator.

4. Can a Child Decide to Live With the Noncustodial Parent?

A child's wishes are a factor considered by courts in some states while making custody decisions. But that doesn't mean a child has all the say, or can unilaterally change an existing custody order. A child's desire to modify custody will generally be considered the same way as when making the custody determination in the first place.

5. Can I Block My Ex From Calling, Texting, or Facetiming Our Child?

For those parents with a less-than-cordial relationship with their ex, communication with the child is sure to be an issue. But again, whether and how a parent can control or limit that communication will normally come down to an existing custody order. Parents can make arguments about why communication should be restricted when putting an original order in place, but should obey that order or petition for a modification if they think it's insufficient.

Related Resources: