The best interests of your child should always be your top priority when it comes to child custody. It should not be about the mother or father, but rather about what is best for your child. There are a variety of sayings, myths, and wives tales about child custody that are not true. However, they remain in circulation and continue to contribute to the confusion.
Do Not Believe Everything That You Hear
• Mothers always get custody of their children.
This was a typical occurrence many years ago, but still, mothers were not always granted custody. The primary caretaker doctrine allowed custody to be granted to the primary caregiver in the household. However, as times changed, more and more fathers became actively involved at home, and in turn, mothers have become more career oriented. After the abolishment of this doctrine, it opened the door for the courts to look at each case individually to determine what is in the best interests of the child, or children of each particular case.
• Older children can pick which parent they choose to live with.
It is not uncommon for the judge to hear what the child has to say about where they want to live, however, this is not necessarily a determining factor in granting custody. This may contribute to the overall decision, but custody will not be granted solely on a child's choice. The choice that your child picks may not have their best interests in mind, it may be based on one parent being strict while the other is relaxed.
• If you do not pay your child support payments then you can not see your child.
These two matters are completely unrelated. Either parent can not stop visitations from taking place simply because child support has not been paid. Before you decide it is in your child's best interest to stop them from seeing their other parent, consider these items. Parents that are using their children as leverage for payments can be held in contempt of the child custody order. Fines and sanctions can be imposed on the parent that is withholding visitations.
• The parent that is granted custody is in complete control of all aspects of the child's life.
There are two types of custody recognized by Pennsylvania law. They are legal and physical custody. Both parents are typically entitled to make decisions about major changes in their child's life. Only in rare circumstances, like a parent being proven to be unfit, are those rights revoked. Just because one parent has sole custody does not mean that they have sole legal custody. Know your rights when it comes to child custody in Pennsylvania.