Common Myths of Child Custody

Please note: This is a brief guide and not intended to be legal advice. Please contact us at (202) 870-3021 to discuss the particulars of your situation.


Child custody can be one of the most challenging negotiations of a person’s life. It is hard to think about not being with your child 100% of the time because the relationship with your partner didn’t work out.

Let’s explore some of the common misconceptions about child custody:

MYTH: Mothers get sole custody and fathers only get visitation

If a father wants joint or sole custody there is nothing preventing him from seeking it.

He may actually be awarded sole custody when it is contested by the mother if there are facts present that warrant it. For example, there may be circumstances that make the mother an unfit parent.

MYTH: If I have more money than my child’s other parent, I will gain custody from the court

Not necessarily.

The amount of money one parent has compared to the other is not the deciding factor of who will gain custody.

The court will analyze various facts from each side to decide if it will be better for your child to live with you or the other parent.

MYTH: If I file for custody before my child’s other parent, I will gain custody from the court

The order of who files for custody first has no bearing on the outcome of a child custody case.

There are a number of factors that the court will consider in addition to the facts that each side presents in the case. The court will use these to ultimately determine what is in the best interest of the child: custody with you or the child’s other parent.

MYTH: We have to go to court to determine who will have custody

Although a “custody battle” is commonly thought of as litigated in court, there are other methods to settle the matter.

Courts favor parties settling outside of court. It will save time and resources, especially the increased cost to your attorney who advocates on your behalf.

MYTH: If I still live in the marital home the court will decide I should have sole custody because it is what my child is used to

Just like with the order of filing, the court considers a number of factors in determining who should have custody.

If your goal is to have sole custody of your child, and it is up to you to bring in persuasive facts to overcome the presumption that you and the other parent should have joint custody.

MYTH: I am stuck with the child custody arrangements

A parent may file for a change in child custody arrangements at any time. This change is called modification of a child custody order. Keep in mind though, although you may file for a custody modification, it doesn’t mean that the court will decide in your favor.

Important questions to think about as you and your lawyer consider if it is worth filing for a change in the custody arrangements are:

  • Has there been a substantial and material change of circumstances with the other parent to warrant a change in custody?
  • Would this change in custody be in the best interest of the child?

Answering those questions and consulting with your attorney will help lead you in the right direction.