There is no shortage of myths circulating around how Texas child custody is determined, the rules surrounding those in arrears for child support, and whether the custodial parent can deny visitation to the other parent. It is important to decipher fact from fiction, since you could face serious legal penalties if you take it upon yourself to “rectify” the situation. If you are unsure of how to proceed with your particular child custody issue, see a Dallas child custody lawyer.
Child Custody Myths Debunked
There are 5 child custody myths you should be aware of:
- Mothers Always Get Custody – One of the most pervasive and widely held myths regarding child custody is that the courts will always place the child in the custody of the mother. While this may have been true up until the 1970s, modern courts will not automatically grant custody to the mother. Attitudes have changed over time, and the mandate of family court in awarding custody has been geared toward what is in the child’s best interests, regardless of gender.
- Visitation Rights Denied After Non-Payment of Child Support – Another myth is that if the non-custodial parent doesn’t pay child support, the primary parent is allowed to deny them their visitation rights. Not true, since child support and visitation are separate issues in Texas. The custodial parent must follow the parenting plan and visitation schedule regardless of whether the other parent is paying child support or not. Unless the non-custodial parent is truly unable to pay support, the matter of delinquent child support payments is a criminal offense that would be prosecuted by local district attorneys.
- Custody is Forever – The idea that the custody arrangement enacted in family court is forever is yet another falsehood. Although the parenting plan agreement is intended to resolve long-term issues that might arise, there is always the option to file a motion to modify the child custody arrangement. In order to successfully alter the original agreement, you must provide evidence to the court of a material and substantial change in circumstances.
- The Child Chooses Custody – The child getting to choose which parent they would like to live with is also a common misconception. Although Texas family court will listen and take into account a child’s preference, it will not be the deciding factor on custody. If the child is over 12 years of age, the judge will meet privately with them; it is in the judge’s discretion to listen to the preferences of children under the age of 12, since at a young child is not able to appropriately judge what is in their best interests.
- Paternity Doesn’t Matter – A non-biological father will be compelled to pay child support if he signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity prior to discovering the child wasn’t his. Texas recently passed a mistaken paternity law to address the termination of parental rights in this regard. Even if a man signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or if a court order was rendered, he must be able to show that he believed himself to be the father of the child at the time in order to terminate his parental rights and cease child support payments.
Help from a Dallas Child Custody Lawyer
Since 1994, the law offices of Warren & Migliaccio has provided compassionate yet firm legal assistance to families in Dallas, Collin, and surrounding counties. Practicing in the areas of divorce, child custody, and child support, their team is dedicated to doing everything in their power to make these life transitions easier on you and your family. For a free consultation, call 1-888-584-9614 today.