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Law Offices of MariAnn Hathaway
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Common Misconceptions About Child Custody

For many former couples, determining child custody is the most difficult aspect of a divorce. Child custody disputes are often especially stressful because many people go into the process with inaccurate information and assumptions.

Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions that child custody lawyers encounter:

Child Custody MythThe Reality

Myth: Children get to decide where they live as soon as they become teenagers.

Courts will consider a teenager's preferences, but this is only one of 16 factors that the courts consider. And the child's preferences will only be given due consideration if they are well-reasoned (not just based on a whim).

Myth: Mothers are always awarded custody.

Pennsylvania courts make decisions in the best interests of children. It has become increasingly common to keep both parents involved whenever possible.
Myth: The parent who stays in the marital residence (keeps the house) will have an advantage in the custody dispute.This is not true, and especially not in Washington County. Other considerations are far more important than continuity of a child's residence.
Myth: Exposure to domestic violence has only a small, short-term effect on kids.Children can be and often are seriously traumatized by seeing/hearing one parent abuse the other. The effects may last years and could require therapy.
Myth: One parent can withhold access to the children if the other parent is not making court-ordered child support payments.Custody and support are separate matters with different methods of enforcement. If a parent interferes with their co-parent's custody time, he or she may be taken to court.
Myth: A child's parent has no right to expose the child to a new boyfriend or girlfriend without the other parent's consent.Courts will not control who children meet and spend time with, unless the new boyfriend or girlfriend poses a serious threat to the safety or well-being of the child.

Collaboration May Lead To A Better Outcome

When parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the decision is left to the courts. Each parent can submit a parenting plan stating preferences, but the final custody order will be determined by a judge.

Parents who are able to negotiate a custody plan outside the courtroom (with the help of attorneys) can then submit what is called a custody consent order. As long as the agreements are fair and workable, judges often approve them. This option gives parents the most control over the outcomes of their case.

Discuss Your Case With A Southwest Pennsylvania Attorney

The Law Offices of MariAnn Hathaway offer decades of experience in child custody and other family law matters. To schedule a consultation, please call 724-705-1323 or fill out this online contact form.

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