July 12, 2020

Myths About Custody in Divorce

Myths about child custody in a divorce in Connecticut abound.  They often result in false expectations that can lead to long term conflict between parents and permanent damage to children.  Let’s debunk three of the most common myths. 

Myth #1: Shared custody is automatic.  Many divorced parents now share physical custody.  But shared custody is not required and should not be presumed.  Instead, the law requires the judge to order the parenting plan which is in the child’s best interests.  There is a list of factors for a judge to consider.  The temperament and developmental needs of the child, the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the child’s life, and the willingness and ability of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent are just a few.  Applying those factors in any given case may or may not result in children spending about equal time with each parent.

Myth #2: Kids age 14 and up can decide where they will live.  The child’s “informed preferences” is only one factor a judge may consider and there is no set age at which a preference is persuasive.  Children don’t necessarily know or want to admit what is in their best interests.  They may be manipulated by parents or other adults or, on the other hand, use a custody battle to manipulate their parents.  For these reasons, a judge isn’t bound by a child’s preference. Law aside – pressuring their child to “pick a parent” is one of the worst things any parent can do to a child.

Myth #3: Shared custody eliminates any child support obligation.  Even when parents share custody, the law assumes one parent will pay child support to the other parent in an amount computed using the Child Support Guidelines formula.  Although each case depends on the facts, sometimes a judge may allow a lower payment to reflect child expenses paid by a parent that would have been incurred by the other parent or where parental incomes are comparable. 

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand how the law on custody would apply to your particular situation to protect yourself and your children.

This article first appeared in the July 2, 2020 edition of The Cheshire Citizen.

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