7 Common Myths About “Custody”: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

By Calabrese Budner By Calabrese Budner | February 26, 2024 | Lifestyle Sponsored Post

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Many parents’ assumptions about custody are outdated or flat-out wrong. Partners Carla Calabrese, Lee Budner, and Britney Harrison, experienced divorce attorneys at Calabrese Budner, explain how these myths cause parents to miss opportunities to gain the custody arrangements they want.

Myth # 1: Only one side “gets custody”

Partner Lee Budner explains: “Clients often think of custody as a singular concept that only one party gets. ‘I want custody’ is a phrase we often hear. The concept of ‘custody’ is actually broken down into two categories of parental rights. First, there is ‘conservatorship,’ or, the rights and duties parents have related to their child. Second, there is possession and access—which basically means parenting time.” When considering how a divorce or custody matter is actually going to impact your relationship with your children, “it’s critical to understand this distinction,” Partner Britney Harrison says. “Parents also need to understand that parents’ conservatorship and possession rights vary on a case-by-case basis, and it is rarely an either/or situation.”

HighRez_VG2023_0065Britney.jpgPartner Britney Harrison

Myth #2: Mothers Always Win

“Despite changes in the law that remove presumptions in favor of mothers,” notes Managing Partner Carla Calabrese, “many fathers still walk in expecting to give up custody. At the same time, mothers often make the mistake of assuming they will not need to present strong arguments to support their preferred arrangements in terms of decision-making for their children and parenting time. In either case, we need to work closely with our clients to develop a persuasive body of evidence to show why their requests would serve the child’s best interests.”

Myth #3: Joint Custody Means Equal Time

“Many parents believe shared custody is an all-or-nothing approach,” observes Budner. “They feel that if they cannot arrange their schedule to take care of their child exactly 50% of the time, then joint custody will not work for them. However, we can work with parents in Texas to establish a plan that fits their schedules.”

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Myth #4: Equal-Time Parenting Schedule Means No Child Support

“Having an equal-time parenting schedule does not always eliminate the need for child support,” explains Harrison. Depending on the resources of the parties, one parent may still be required to pay child support to the other parent. We work to ensure that support obligations are equitable. We will look at all the applicable net resources of the parties and determine an agreement that supports the best interests of the child.”

Myth #5: Older Children Decide Custody for Themselves

“While the law allows the court to consider the opinion of a child who is at least 12 years old,” Calabrese explains, “the judge will make the custody decision based on the child’s best interests in light of all the facts presented, not just the child’s preferences.”

Myth #6: Custody Can Never Be Modified

“We help parents modify custody all the time,” Lee observes. “We show the court why changing circumstances require different custody arrangements to serve the child’s best interests.”

HighRez_VG2022_Calabrese3960b.jpgPartner Carla Calabrese, Partner Lee Budner

Myth #7: It’s OK to Move if You Have Primary Custody

“Texas law seeks to optimize a child’s relationship with both parents,” Harrison notes. “That means that a parent with the right to designate primary residence will be limited in where they can relocate with the child. If either you or the other parent plan to move out of the county, it is extremely important to consult an attorney to ensure that the move complies with the terms of the governing order.”

Myth #8: Custody Battles are Always Resolved in Court

Many custody disputes are resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative law, without going to trial. Courts encourage parents to work together to create a parenting plan that meets the child's needs and often require mediation prior to having a final trial.

Whether you need to establish custody initially or want to modify arrangements, the experienced team at Calabrese Budner knows how to advocate strategically to reach your goals. We understand how to use discovery tools to uncover evidence to build your strongest case, and we work relentlessly to achieve the right outcome for your family.

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