Common Divorce Misconceptions

As a divorce lawyer knows, many people see the legal system portrayed on television shows and movies and mistakenly believe it is how the system really works. However, one should remember that those situations being portrayed are for entertainment value and often rely on the dramatic effect to hook the audience. The actual processes involved in the legal system are far more complex than they may seem. Some of these common misconceptions include the following.

The reason for the divorce makes a difference.

For the majority of divorces, this is not true. Although the actions of a spouse may have been horrible — for example, if they are guilty of infidelity — it does not necessarily make a difference in how the division of assets and debts will be decided.

The majority of states have a no-fault divorce option, which is similar in theory to irreconcilable differences, meaning no one is to blame for the divorce and the couple has just decided to end the marriage. Some states do have “fault” grounds, which do include abandonment, adultery, bigamy, and extreme mental and/or physical cruelty.

These grounds may not affect the divorce settlement, but they can affect child custody and visitation issues.

Everything will be divided between the two spouses right down the middle.

This is another misconception people often have; however, it is not the way divorce settlements work. If your state is an equitable distribution state, the court will take all the assets a couple has — including earnings, savings and retirement accounts, personal property, and real estate — and divide those things by which the court deems as fair, which does not always mean monetarily equal.

Some of the factors a judge may consider when dividing the marital estate are how long the couple was married and the ability of each spouse to earn an income. If your divorce lawyer negotiates on your behalf in mediation or arbitration, you have even more control over the division of assets. 

Hiding assets is a smart move to keep the other spouse from being awarded a share of those assets.

This is also a big mistake when going through a divorce. The courts may overlook hiding an affair from your spouse, but if you attempt to hide assets, be prepared for some possibly heavy sanctions. In some cases, courts have been known to take all those hidden assets and award them all to the other spouse.

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