Common Myths About Child Custody in a Texas Divorce
As one of the most contentious aspects of a Texas divorce, the topic of child custody tends to be surrounded by so much misinformation and unreliable advice. Based on experience, we’ve handled many divorce cases where parents sincerely believed in erroneous information, which tends to come up over and over again.
While we can’t say for sure where this information comes from, what we can do is provide a list of the most common “myths” surrounding child custody and debunk each one.Child Custody Myth #1: Substance Abuse Automatically Cancels Visitation Rights
While it’s true that a history of substance abuse can hurt one spouse’s position in a Texas divorce, it does not automatically compromise his parental rights in a child custody battle.
In fact, it’s not unusual for the Court to issue an injunction prohibiting either spouse from using any substance, such as prescription drugs, without a proper prescription or within a certain time period before or during possession of the children. In the case of illegal substances or abuse of alcohol, the Court may even order the addict spouse to seek rehabilitation.
But if proven that a parent’s history of substance abuse has indeed placed the children in danger, the Court may order professional help and supervised visits until the parent in question can recover.Child Custody Myth #2: The Spouse Who is Working or Has a Higher Income Gets Custody
If anything, the reverse may be true instead. It’s a common setup for parents to divide their responsibilities, with one staying at home looking after the children and the other working.
During property division, this setup may affect how the court divides community property, but in a child custody, where the Court prioritizes the well-being of the child above all else, judges will usually try to come up with a custody situation that’s nurturing and supporting—one that resembles what the child is used to.
This usually means that the stay-at-home parent is deemed to be in the best position to continue providing this familiar environment, as he or she has already been filling that responsibility. The Court will also arrange child support to ensure that the stay-at-home parent and child can maintain their quality of life.Child Custody Myth #3: The Court Will Award Joint Custody Split Evenly
It’s unlikely for this to happen. Most judges in Texas believe that is in the best interest of children to live in one place they call home. This is especially true when younger children are concerned. As such, the Court tends to award possession to one parent based on a standard possession order or something of that sort.
The danger with splitting possession time evenly (e.g. the child shuttles back and forth between one parent and the other every week) is that this causes too much chaos in the child’s life and may lead to behavioral problems and academic issues in the future.Child Custody Myth #4: Child Support can be Waived if Both Spouses Agree to It
This depends on the Texas court presiding over your divorce. In the eyes of the Court, child support is for the child, not the parent or guardian. Even if you don’t need the money, the judge may rule that your child does, perhaps at a later time should something happen to you or for the child’s welfare in the near future.Child Custody Myth #5: Proving How “Bad” the Other Parent is Will Get You Custody
On the contrary, this might end up backfiring on you. Your strategy of badmouthing your spouse can reflect on you and your ability to be a responsible and caring parent of your child. Rather than denigrate your spouse, focus on arguing why you are in a better position to have possession of the children and why it is in their best interest to continue living with you.
Given the often-contentious and complex nature of child custody cases, it’s important to work with a reliable Texas divorce attorney on your case. Get in touch with family law attorney Daniella Lyttle by calling the Lyttle Law Firm at 512.215.5225 or by using our contact form.