There are enough difficult truths about divorce without a web of lies making things even harder. Unfortunately, you can’t believe everything you read about divorce in California. Many “facts” are actually myths and misconceptions, perpetuated by people who are biased, confused or simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Some facts are so outdated they don’t apply anymore, such as the infamous, “50% of all marriages end in divorce.” This statistic is about 30 years old – the fact is that only about 39% of married couples divorce today. Here are a few myths about divorce – busted.
Myth: Divorce is the Only Option
Truth: When the going gets tough, you might assume you have two options with your spouse: staying married or getting a divorce. In truth, you have a few different options for repairing or severing your relationship. Many couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce, in which a couple can live separately while still technically keeping the marriage intact. This might be a better option if you and your spouse might patch things up in the future, or if there are complex assets or insurance policies that depend on the legality of your marriage. You can also consider an annulment in some circumstances, or of course reconcile with your spouse.
Myth: I Deserve to Get More Than My Spouse
Truth: California is a state that abides by equal property division in divorce cases. This means the courts do not take fault into consideration when dividing community property acquired during the marriage. Even if your spouse cheated on you, divorce in the state of California will mean both of you getting equal parts of your marital assets. Even if a bank account, property, or other asset is in your name, it’s part of community property if you acquired it during the marriage (unless it’s an inheritance or gift to you specifically).
Myth: The Courts Favor the Mother in Custody Battles
Truth: In the past, judges were biased toward mothers during child custody decisions. Today, the best interests of the child preside over all else – not the gender of the parents. Fathers have a much better chance of “winning” custody battles today than they did 10 years ago. The courts will assign parenting time and responsibilities according to the child’s age, health, relationship with each parent, history of family violence, and many other factors. Gender is not one of them.
Myth: I Can Ask the Judge to Re-evaluate Property Division Later
Truth: Once a judge rules on the final property division agreement, you cannot request a review or re-evaluation. You may reopen a divorce settlement for investigation only if there are allegations of fraud, misconduct, or overlooked assets. You cannot simply make a request because your circumstances have changed or you’ve had second thoughts. Fully examine the divorce settlement you agree to since you’ll more likely than not have to live with the consequences.
Myth: I’ll Be Better Off Without a Divorce Lawyer
Truth: Unless your divorce is perfectly amicable and doesn’t involve high-value assets or child custody, you will benefit from a lawyer. Yes, a divorce lawyer will cost you money, but it’s well worth the cost to have someone standing up for your rights and making sure the other side doesn’t take advantage of you. If you have a contested divorce, high-value assets, child custody on the line, or simply don’t want to navigate California’s divorce laws on your own, retain a divorce lawyer.