Single parents who are going through child custody battles may feel that they have adversaries coming at them from every direction offering advice and personal stories about the process. Because a child's life is on the line, single parents must make sure they can tell fact from fiction. Here are three child custody myths that single parents mustn't fall for:
Myth 1: The mother always gets custody of the child
The courts in Pennsylvania will award custody of a child to whichever parent is considered the better option for rearing the child. This could mean that the parents must share custody, or that one parent takes over all parental duties and the other parent only has visitation rights. The best interests of the children are determined by considering a variety of factors based on the children's situation. Even if one parent has been largely absent, the court can still step in and award that parent access to the child if the court feels that it is in the children's best interest to do so.
Myth 2: A judge must decide all custody matters
Many child custody matters are handled through mediation, which enables you to avoid having to go through a child custody trial. In the mediation process, a third-party mediator helps you and your ex work through the issues that are present in the child custody case. For single parents, this means that they don't have to find childcare for the trial dates or miss work to attend the trial. Plus, child custody mediation gives you some measure of control over the outcome of the case, which isn't fully possible in a case that goes to trial for resolution.
Myth 3: Child custody orders can't be changed
As children get older, their needs change. Each parent's circumstances can change. For these reasons, child custody orders aren't necessarily meant to be permanent. They can be changed when there are specific criteria that are met. Child custody modifications can help single parents ensure that their children have the opportunities to do the things that children look forward to as they grow. For example, a visitation order might be modified to specify that a teenager who is active in sports must be able to be at all practices, events and games. When it comes to modifications of child custody orders, parents should think about what options they have for making the current needs of the children their top priority.