Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Explains the Most Common Child Custody Clichés

You hear them in movies and television shows. You see them on magnets. Even your own parents repeat them to you. Clichés. For some reason, the divorce and child custody process brings the clichés out of the woodwork. As a family law attorney who has practiced in Mississippi for the past ten years, I have heard them all. Most clichés are well-meaning but flawed, while others are shockingly wrong. It is important to understand that no two child custody cases are alike, so it makes sense that these overbroad and generalized sayings should not apply to every family. Below I list five of the most commonly used child custody clichés and discuss how they might actually provide guidance for your life.

 

  1. [Former spouse] isn’t fit to be a parent. You may have had the most tumultuous relationship ever – adultery, lies, and gambling. However, just because someone makes a bad spouse does not mean that they make a bad parent. In fact, most clients I have worked with are excellent, loving, and very involved parents who simply married people who weren’t right for them. Don’t try to preclude your ex from exercising his or her parental rights simply because you didn’t like the way they treated you.
  2. [Former spouse] can’t bring his/her new [girlfriend/boyfriend] around my child. You will always be your child’s parent, and no one can take that away from you. However, the time will come when your former spouse will move on and meet someone new. You may feel a twinge of jealousy to find out the news, and this may grow as your child begins regaling you with happy tales of time spent with your ex’s new beau. While your first instinct may be to restrict the visitation schedule or seek an order from the judge banning the new spouse from interacting with your child, don’t forget the impact this may have on your child. You want your child to be surrounded by healthy and positive relationships.
  3. I’m the mother, so I’ll get sole custody. While Mississippi courts in the past traditionally awarded sole physical custody to the mother, times are changing. I am now seeing more shared parenting and single dads with custody. Mississippi courts are more readily recognizing the father’s parental rights and are more apt to award joint custody when requested.
  4. [Child] doesn’t love [former spouse] as much as me. This isn’t a competition. The emotional stress of divorce may have become entangled with your child custody planning. Remember that a child develops best when both parents are able to play an active and meaningful role in the child’s life. By preoccupying yourself with competing with your former spouse for your child’s love, you may be inhibiting your child’s ability to learn about healthy adult relationships.
  5. Let’s bring [child] to court to choose. Unless your child is an adult teenager, you should never put your child in the middle of a custody battle. In fact, when you need to go to court for a custody hearing, leave your child with a babysitter. The less involved your child is with the dispute process, the better. Asking your child to choose will put undue hardship on the child. In addition, your child may feel overwhelmed and confused about what is happening. If the court requests the child’s opinion or preference, ask that your child be interviewed in private by the judge to minimize stress.

Cliché or not, it is vital that you speak with a child custody attorney in Mississippi if you are facing difficulty agreeing on a visitation schedule or type of custody. For experienced advice on the divorce and child custody process, contact Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole at (601) 573-7429 now.

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Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Explains the Most Common Child Custody Clichés
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Mississippi Divorce Lawyer explains the most common child custody cliches.

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