Sigman Janssen Legal Blog

Common Divorce Myths Dispelled

July 14, 2017

Common Divorce Myths Dispelled:

Chances are that some of the divorce information you have heard from friends, neighbors, and co-workers is actually true. However, a lot of the things you have heard or maybe even believe about divorce are not true at all. Believing these divorce myths can cost you time, money, and a whole lot of stress. Here are some of the biggest divorce myths floating around today:

The Children Can Choose Who They Want to Live With. Contrary to what most people believe, minor children do not get to choose which parent they want to live with … ever. When children turn 18 they are no longer legally considered to be minor children, and at that point they can choose where they want to live. Until that time, they can have an opinion, and they may be given the opportunity to voice that opinion through a Guardian ad Litem (an attorney appointed by the Court to represent the best interests of minor children). Ultimately, if the parents cannot agree on where their children will live, the judge will decide the issue based upon “the best interests of the children,” not what the children want. The wishes of the children are only one of several factors the Judge can consider when making the decision.

I Will Get More if My Spouse Cheated on Me. In this day and age, marital misconduct has almost nothing to do with how your marital assets will be divided. The judge doesn’t care who your spouse slept with, or how your spouse misbehaved during your marriage. With few exceptions, marital assets will be divided equally.

One Spouse Can Stop the Other from Getting a Divorce. No fault divorce is now universal in the United States. That means that if one spouse does not want a divorce but the other one does, the spouse who does not want the divorce can make it take longer, or cost more, but cannot stop the divorce altogether. Along similar lines, it does not matter to the Court who files and who responds. You will not “look bad” in the eyes of the Court if you are the one who initiates the divorce.

Lottery winnings are not marital property. Yes they are. If you win the lottery during your marriage and subsequently file for divorce – those winnings, with very few exceptions, are marital property subject to division with your spouse.

A Parent Can Deny Visitation if the Other Parent Does Not Pay Child Support. Child support and Placement time (formerly called visitation) are two separate issues. Absent abuse or other extenuating circumstances, parents are expected to follow the court ordered placement schedule. Every parent also has an obligation to support his/her children financially. However, just because a parent may be behind in his/her support obligation does not mean that he/she does not get to spend time with the children.

If I Don’t Like My Divorce Settlement, I Can Change it Later. Believing this divorce myth can really hurt you later on. Divorce judgments are final. That means that, once they have been entered, for the most part, you cannot change them. Yes, you may be able to modify the provisions that pertain to support and/or placement of the children. And, of course, if your divorce judgment was entered into as the result of fraud or duress, you may be able to change it later. But changing most of the terms of the divorce judgment based upon fraud or duress is terribly difficult. So, when you are entering into a divorce judgment you need to treat it like it is set in stone. For the most part, it is.

Divorce is one of life’s most painful experiences, so it is good to have a sympathetic ear while going through the process. People tend to share their experiences or the experiences of their brother’s cousin’s friend while in the break room at work or at the corner bar. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, keep in mind that you are better off going to a lawyer before making any decisions based on advice and/or stories you have heard about your co-worker’s brother’s divorce.  For sound advice, contact us today.

Attorney Katherine Canadeo