5 Myths About Child Custody

Mother and Chlid

Photo Credit: Ryand1975

Divorce is a confusing and confronting process. When we feel overwhelmed, many of us head online to find clarity.
There is a wealth of information at our fingertips – but not all of it is accurate.
This article busts open 5 common myths surrounding divorce and child custody to give you a dose of real clarity.

1. If my ex fails to pay Child Support I am entitled to restrict their access to our kids

False.

Although this strategy seems like justice, it isn’t how the law works. As far as the courts are concerned, custody arrangements and Child Support are separate entities. This means that a default in one area doesn’t directly affect your partner’s rights in the other. That is, not until a court says so. By refusing your ex access to your kids when Child Support isn’t paid, you may actually land yourself in trouble for breaking the custody agreement. You always have the right to protect your kids. But when things start to get complicated, always consult a lawyer before making any decisions that may impact your access to your kids down the track. Need legal advice? Women’s Legal Service have branches across Australia that offer free legal support to women experiencing complex family law matters.

2. If we share parenting evenly, no Child Support will be ordered

False.

The two primary factors that influence Child Support are your income and the extent to which you care for your children. Even if you are sharing the parenting responsibilities with your ex equally, a significant difference in your relative earnings may still mean that one of you will be ordered to pay Child Support. This will ultimately be assessed on a case by case basis.

3. Mothers are favoured by the courts

False.

The primary factors that determine custody arrangements are the safety, happiness and well-being of the child(ren). Admittedly, the system isn’t perfect. But as far as the law itself is concerned, the gender of the custodial parent isn’t a deciding factor. Instead, it is the parent’s capacity to care and provide for their child(ren) that matters. It remains true that more mothers are given primary caregiver responsibilities by comparison to fathers. But this is usually due to women’s increased role in the upbringing of children by comparison to men before separation or divorce.

4. A shared parenting schedule isn’t necessary for couples who split amicably

False.

A shared parenting schedule provides you with routine and structure. Most importantly, it gives you rules and a reference point if things ever start to turn ugly between each parent. Your arrangement may work easily in the beginning. But what happens if your ex starts keeping the kids longer than agreed upon? What happens if they begin to miss regular meetups? A co-signed parenting agreement gives you a security blanket in the event that things start to turn pear-shaped down the track. A good parenting plan should include an outline of who cares for the kids on each night, how to communicate with the kids while they are out of your care and the way in which you will go about rescheduling your days.

5. Taking a smaller property settlement will reduce the child support you pay

False.

Child Support and property settlements are considered separate matters by the law. Child Support is calculated by considering your income, your parenting arrangements and the circumstances unique to your situation. For this reason, accepting a smaller settlement is unlikely to decrease Child Support payments.

For more information

See this separation handbook produced by Women’s Legal Service Queensland. It contains reliable up-to-date information about the legalities of custody, Child Support and divorce. 

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