Child custody and child support are amongst the most contentious issues that couples face when going through a divorce. It is therefore not surprising that there are many myths and misconceptions regarding these issues. It is important to differentiate between facts and myths in order to make decisions that are in the best interests of your children.
The following are some common myths that you should be aware of:
Mothers are always awarded custody of the children in a divorce
While mothers in many divorce cases are awarded custody of the children, it is not automatic that mothers are awarded custody. Tennessee courts decide what they believe will be in the best interests of the child.
Several factors are considered including the living arrangements, work obligations and lifestyle of each parent. The court will also consider which parent the couple have agreed should have primary custody of the children.
You can withhold visitation if your spouse doesn’t pay child support
It is important to understand that visitation and child support are two completely different issues. Just because you got primary custody of the children doesn’t mean that you will receive child support. Therefore, you can’t prevent your ex from seeing their children if you don’t receive child support.
If you want to receive child support, you will need to take the matter to court for a resolution. Refusing visitation can have legal ramifications. You may be charged with a crime. This in turn could jeopardize your rights to custody as well as child support.
The parent’s duty to pay child support ends when the child reaches 18 years of age
This is not true. If the parents have agreed to extend the time for support, e.g. to pay the child’s college tuition and expenses, child support may extend beyond the age of 18. Child support may also be extended beyond 18 in cases where the child has special needs or if the child is still attending high school.
Child support or custody orders cannot be changed once they have been entered
Child custody and support orders are given with the child’s best interests in mind. They can therefore be changed if the circumstances of the parents change. For example, if a parent lands a better paying job, the court may change the child support order to ensure that the child will benefit from their parent’s new found financial success. If the parent loses their job or suffers other financial constraints, the court may rule to have child support payments reduced.
The parent receiving child support needs to account for how the money is spent
In many cases, parents don’t need to account for how the money they receive as child support is spent. However, if a parent believes that their child is not being provided for, for example the child looks malnourished or is wearing worn-out clothes, they can request a review of the child custody and support orders.
If you have children and are facing a divorce, hire a reliable divorce attorney to ensure your rights are protected and that you don’t fall for common myths.