When it comes to Georgia divorce cases, there often some myths that get repeated. These myths then get shared among friends and they start to spread – and people start to see them as facts instead of the myths that they are. So when the time comes and these Georgia child custody myths are debunked before them – and sometimes in open court, they are left shocked and often frustrated. To help avoid a frustrating surprise, the following are some of the more frequent Georgia child custody myths and the actual truth.
Listen to the Children
It is thought that the children can testify about which parent they want to live with. This is not the case, in the case of children 13 or older, a judge may listen to their desires but the judge will not make a decision of child custody solely on the desires of a child. In some cases, one of the parents may insist that their child be heard when it comes to custody, normally the court will not grant the request and it can actually harm your case.
Mom Always Wins
It is believed that the mother will always be granted custody of the children. This is not true, custody of the children is determined by the judge based on the best interest of the child. To determine where the best interest of the child is, the court must take into consideration a series of statutorily-specified factors. In the past, there may have been some favor shown to the mother because it was believed that mother were the best caretakers for children of a young age, also known as the tender years doctrine. Nowadays there is no presumption that the mother is the one who is best suited to take care of young children, what is becoming apparently preferred is shared custody, in which the children spend equal time with both of the parents.
The Have to Pay to See the Children
Another misconception is that if the spouse that pays child support fails to pay, then they are not allowed to see their children. It is important to remember that child support and child custody are two separate things and that one does not directly affect the other. Even if the parent that has to pay child has little time with his children, they still have to pay, no matter the amount of time they spend with them. The same is true in the case of a parent being behind on the child support payments, they are still entitled to spend time with their children. In fact, if the court may not take kindly to the idea that one of the parents is using time with the children as leverage for child support payments. However, there are situations in which a parent may lose visitation rights, for example if the children are in danger while in the custody of one of the parents, and it can be proven in court, the court may order supervised or no visitation.
I Filed First, I Win!
One of the most widely believed myths is that whoever files for divorce first will automatically receive custody of the children. It is important to remember that child custody is not a competition. Custody is decided either by order of a judge or agreement of the parents. If the divorce was filed to leave an abusive relationship, the judge may take that into consideration.
My Children, My Rules
One last misconception is that the parent that has the children makes all their decisions. This is not all the way true, there are 2 types of custody, there is physical custody and legal custody. The parent that has physical custody keeps the children with them, the parent that has legal custody makes decisions relating to their religion, health care, and education amongst other things. Normally legal custody is given to both parents if the court determines there is some level of cooperation between them. This means that even if one the parents spends a small amount of time with their children, they are still allowed to make decisions about their life. However, there is the possibility if one parent receiving both physical and legal custody.
If Both Parents have Custody – Then There Is No Child Support
It is thought that is both parents have joint custody, then there is not child support that needs to be paid. The reasoning behind this is that since both parents take care of the children, one parent does not need to pay child support to the other. This is not entirely correct, because child support is based on income and time children have spent with their parents, one parent will usually owe child support to the other unless both parents have the equal income, pay the same amount for insurance, and have the children for the same amount of days.
After 18 it’s All Over
It is true that usually a parent stops paying child support once the children reach the age of 18. However, this sometimes varies state by state. Another misconception is that if one of the parents is behind on child support payments and the child turns 18 then they no longer have to pay the past-due child support. This is not the case, those past due payments are still owed to the other parent unless the court determines that the past due child support needs to be paid to the now adult child.