Divorce can be confusing and emotionally charged, and there are a lot of myths about the process that we want to clear up for you.
1. Divorce is Inexpensive
Even quick divorces cost money; on average $20,000 per person which is a lot for most couples. Some people cannot even afford to get divorced, so they remain married or separated and living together to save money.
There are options for making the process less expensive such as mediation which can cost only a fraction of the cost of a traditional, court-centered divorce.
2. Women Cannot Divorce Their Husbands for Sexual Harassment
State laws do protect women against sexual abuse from their husbands, and in many states, you can file for divorce for any reason. The fact of marriage is removed from the equation when a woman presses charges against her husband for sexual abuse. Law enforcement is mandated to look beyond the personal relationship and focus only on the facts so that if a crime has been committed and reported, they can respond accordingly.
3. Divorced Couples Can Remain Friends
In some rare cases, this is true, but most married couples that file for divorce do not remain friends. There is a lot of anger, frustration and leftover hurt from the marriage and divorce proceedings so typically neither party wants to have a cordial relationship after it’s over. It takes time for both parties to heal and move on with their lives. Divorce is a significant change that impacts the entire family dramatically.
It takes exceptionally mature and emotionally healthy people to move on from the loss of a marriage and family and remain friends. Even then sometimes it can be challenging to set aside hurt feelings.
Sometimes a friendship can re-develop long after both parties have moved onto new relationships.
4. Confidentiality Clauses Work
The only time confidentiality clauses in a divorce work are when the state allows a private, sealed divorce. Otherwise, divorce records are publicly accessible, and anyone can read the details and obtain a copy.
Even if one party insists on confidentiality in a divorce agreement, there is no perfect way to ensure privacy. People talk and share information on social media all the time so even though you may want to keep your private life, private, chances are the information will get out eventually.
5. You Have to Use a Lawyer
Although you can legally represent yourself in a divorce case and you do not need a lawyer, you probably should hire an attorney anyway. If you cannot afford a lawyer, some states will appoint one for you.
If you use an alternative to divorce such as mediation, then you may work with a legal representative but not a lawyer.
6. Child Visitation Can Be Denied if Child Support Isn’t Paid
No. You absolutely cannot deny visitation if the court granted it. You have options for following a legal process to collect child support, but child visitation is in no way related to child support. In fact, you will be breaking the law if you threaten or deny visitation for non-payment of child support.
7. Mother’s Always Get Custody of the Kids
This rule used to be the case many years ago, and psychologists backed it up with evidence that kids needed to be with their mothers. However, things have changed, and now men are seeking and being granted custody of their children fifty percent of the time in divorce cases.
This shift may in part be due to more women are now employed in power positions, and they are the primary breadwinners, whereas the fathers are the ones raising the kids.
8. Most Divorces End Up in Court
Not all divorces end up in court. Although you will have to file a lot of paperwork with the court system, you may never end up setting foot in a courtroom. If you use a collaborative approach or mediation, your legal representative will file all the paperwork for you, and you shouldn’t have to appear in court or testify.
In some cases, if the divorce is complicated or acrimonious then you may end up in a heated court battle, but you don’t have to; it’s entirely up to you.
9. Men Usually Initiate Divorces
Not true at all. It is the women that initiate divorce most often. In fact, women file two-thirds of all divorces in the U.S. The most common reasons for this are the way the law is structured and child custody issues. Another widely held opinion is that husbands are more likely to have problems with alcohol, cheating, drugs, abuse and other things that cause the divorce.
10. Children Get to Pick Who They Live With
Although in some states and some courts a judge may “take into consideration” the express wishes of a child wanting to be with one parent over another, the judge will determine which parental situation is most beneficial to the children. Even in shared custody situations, the judges must evaluate all the facts because the kids affected most in a divorce.
If you are considering divorce, it is best to get all your facts straight before heading off to the lawyer’s office. The Internet provides excellent sources of information on state laws for divorce and resources to help you plan and make the right decision that is best for your whole family.