Berman & Asbel, LLP

Misconceptions about child custody

When Pennsylvania parents of minor children end their marriage, the issue of child custody will come up. It is often something that is decided by the courts, and there are a number of myths about how child custody works. Some of the things that people mistakenly believe are that decisions are based on gender, income or child support payments and that child custody cannot be changed.

When courts make a decision as to which parent should be granted custody of a child, they are to consider the best interests of the child. Therefore, while the gender of the parent or that person's income may play a role in the judge's determination, their decision cannot solely rest on one thing.

Individuals may also think that if a parent isn't keeping up with child support payments, they will not be able to be granted custody or have visitation rights. Child support is an entirely separate issue from custody and visitation, so even if someone is behind on or not making child support payments at all, it won't necessarily limit their access to their children.

Another misconception about child custody is that once it has been determined by a judge it cannot be changed. While a significant change in circumstances is usually required for a person to be able to successfully petition for a change of custody, custody rulings can be changed. Changes in circumstances usually entail significant increases or reductions in one parent's income or a pattern that indicates that the custodial parent is unable to properly take care of children.

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