Divorce can be a difficult time for many people. However, others find it a particularly comfortable experience. Despite the fact that half of all marriages end in divorce and many people know at least one divorced individual, myths are prevalent surrounding the ending of a marriage. We've assembled a few of the most common ones to help disprove them.
Myth #1: Divorce Is Always Contentious
It is definitely true that many divorces can be emotionally painful, but this doesn’t mean all partners going through a divorce can never agree on anything. In fact, couples who can agree on most issues in a divorce, such as childcustody, alimony, and property division, can get what is called an uncontested divorce. This is usually the easiest and cheapest route to take when getting divorced, as contested divorce often requires hiring attorneys, attending mediation proceedings, or even setting and attending court dates.
Myth #2: Adultery Can Cost You Everything
Even in states that allow at-fault divorces, your part in ending the marriage will only be taken into consideration when the judge considers equitable property division. Likewise, adultery isn’t necessarily an indication you are an unfit parent, and in child custody decisions, all that matters is what is best for the child or children involved. If, however, adultery was combined with a wasteful dissipation of marital assets, you could be forced to compensate your spouse as a result.
Myth #3: Mothers Always Get Child Custody
While this may have been true years ago, the law has updated along with the times. Custody is awarded to whichever parent is most capable of taking care of the children in question. Texas law takes into account several factors when determining custody, including the fiscal earnings of each parent, the relationship between the child and each parent, and even the child’s inclination if they are old enough.
Myth #4: Only Women Get Spousal Support
Like the custody myth, this practice, too, is a relic of earlier times. Alimony used to be awarded to women because they were less likely to be able to support themselves in a male-dominated society. Now, typically both spouses earn an income in order to support the entire family. Likewise, sometimes men become the caretakers if they stay at home with the children while his wife earns an income. Any spouse that is out of the workforce for an extended period of time through the course of the marriage will require some level of spousal support until he or she is able to find a job.
Myth #5: Divorces Always Go to Court
Couples do have to file divorce papers with the court, but this doesn’t mean all questions in the separation must be settled by a judge. More and more couples are opting for what is called alternative dispute resolution. This process involves sitting down informally and discussing the terms of the divorce with a mediator or negotiator present. Mediation is not only faster and less formal, but it is significantly less expensive than attending several court sessions to hash out asset division and spousal support. In some states, an attempt at mediation is even required before legal proceedings can take place.
Myth #6: Assets Are Divided Equally
In divorces where both spouses are on a relatively equal footing, property division is rarely exactly equal. Rather, a judge will look at how both spouses are likely to survive on their own after the divorce. For example, if one spouse has a lower potential for earning income following the divorce, he or she may get spousal support. In another case, a partner who earns more income per year may be allowed to keep the family home because he or she is able to afford the mortgage payments. Property division, while not always divided down the middle, will usually be equitable. Fairness is the goal.
Myth #7: Children Can Pick Who They Live With
Children are never allowed to choose the parent they live with. The court determines what is in the child’s best interests, whether or not it aligns with his or her desires. However, what the law does allow is for a child at least 12 years of age or older to make his or her wishes known to the judge. According to Texas Family Code 153.009, any party to the suit can make an application, and the judge must interview the child in chambers to determine the child’s wishes. The law further specifies the interview doesn’t diminish the court’s discretion in determining the best interest of the child. While a child may want to live with one parent over the other, living with that parent may be detrimental to the child’s safety, health, or stability.
Myth #8: If You Don’t Pay Child Support, You Can’t See Your Kid
Child support isn’t paying for the privilege of seeing your child. If you neglect your child support payments, your spouse can’t prevent you from seeing your kid. Parents have a right to visitation. The issue of visitation and child support are two separate legal matters. Your spouse can inform the judge of your reluctance to pay child support, and the judge could decide to impose penalties; however, you are still allowed to visit your child. A judge may be forced to impose wage garnishment, liens on your property, or seize your tax refund as punishment, but you will never lose your visitation rights as a result of failing to pay.
Myth #9: Divorce Comes with Social Stigma
Divorce is a highly common occurrence. Earlier in U.S. history, stigma might have been attached to divorce because women were more dependent on men financially. Now, if either spouse gets divorced, they are typically capable of holding a job and earning their own income. Marriage is also more secularized. While some more conservative religions view divorce as morally reprehensible, other faiths are more tolerant. Some marriages were even entered into without regard to any religious institution, meaning the couple has no conservative religious community who will judge them for it. Whatever your particular case, almost 50% of all marriages end in divorce, so it is much more common and socially acceptable.
If you have any questions about divorce that weren’t answered here, give our experienced Katy divorce attorneys a call. Adams Law Firm has more than 30 years of legal experience in family law, and we can help you work toward a favorable resolution of your divorce proceedings. Let us provide you with the representation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a case consultation.