At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys know that when parents of minor children are ready to dissolve their marriages, child custody is often their first concern.
That is typical because they have heard so many different myths about how child custody is awarded in California that they either think they know the process, or they are panicking because they do not know what to expect.
Partnering with an experienced child custody lawyer in Los Angeles will help set the record straight, based on your unique family dynamics.
Until then, here are the top five myths about California child custody, and why they are exactly that — myths.
The Kids Will Get to Pick Which Parent They Want to Live With
If you are wondering whether your kids will get to testify during your divorce proceedings, it is important to know that our California family courts do not like putting kids in the middle of legal matters.
That said, children of an appropriate age — who can make reasonable decisions based on facts which is typically 14 and older in California, may be interviewed by the judge to determine their parental preferences. The court may also allow a third-party professional to testify regarding your child’s wishes.
In the end, the courts would like to see both parents fully participating in the children’s lives.
Mothers Always Win Custody of the Children
Years and years ago, mothers were typically the parents who stayed at home with the children while the father worked, which usually tipped the scales in their favor during divorce proceedings.
Today, household roles are no longer gender-specific, nor is every family comprised of a “mom” and “dad” which makes this ideology an absolute myth.
If you are wondering which parent is more likely to get custody of the children, there are many factors that go into the courts making that decision. And, if it is at all possible, the parents should be the ones who decide on a parenting plan based on their intimate knowledge of the child-parent relationships.
In California, parents can make these decisions without the court’s involvement, and it is often better handled privately.
Parents Forfeit Their Visitation Rights When They Do Not Pay Child Support
In California, child custody agreements and child support arrangements are mutually exclusive. That means one has nothing to do with the other once they are finalized. If one parent is not paying child support on time or at all that fact can be enforced by the courts or pursued by Los Angeles Child Support Services directly. It does not give the other parent the right to withhold visitation or to forfeit the other parent’s legal custody rights.
If I Have Custody of the Children, I Can Move Them Wherever I Want
Even if one parent has been awarded sole custody of the children, they may not move the children out of state without permission from the court. Relocating with your children requires notifying the non-custodial parent and ensuring the family court agrees the move is in the best interest of the children.
The Parent That Files for Divorce Gets Custody of the Children
Some spouses think that if they are removing themselves from an unhappy marriage by filing for divorce first, they are making the best decision for both themselves and their children and therefore will get custody of the kids as a result.
There are numerous factors that will influence how the parents will split their time with the children, and if it is left to a judge to decide, which person files for divorce or who was at fault for the dissolution — is not part of the examined criteria unless domestic violence or another form of abuse is a proven factor.
If you are pursuing a divorce in California and have questions about how the process will affect your children, and who gets custody of them, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles at the Land Legal Group today at (310) 552-3500 to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique needs.