Many people preparing for divorce head into it with a lot of preconceived notions. They’ve listened to friends or family members, who share their thoughts – sending the potential divorcee into a state of uncertainty. Most of these tall tales, told by family and friends, are actually common myths people hold about divorce.
Divorce myths are fictitious stories people like to share with one another. Many of these stories seem authentic because they’re born out of the desire to comfort, but are wrong nonetheless. Understanding some of these assumptions may bring more peace of mind to those heading into this significant life change. Here are five of some of the most common myths about divorce.
A spouse can deny the other spouse a divorce.
You’ve been considering divorce, but your spouse has told you he or she will never grant you one. Maybe your friends have even confirmed this as your spouse’s right. Fortunately, you’re not trapped. Pennsylvania has no-fault divorce laws, which means you may obtain a divorce without the consent of your spouse. The waiting period for the completion of the divorce may vary, but once financial issues have been resolved, a divorce can usually move forward.
The children get to choose which parent they want to live with.
Although the court system may consider the expressed wishes of older children when deciding custody, ultimately the best interests of the child is the real goal. Decisions are based on a full 16-factor analysis which involves examining duties performed by each parent, as well as other factors including the child/parent relationship, each parent’s criminal record, the child’s overall well-being, and more.
If a parent doesn’t pay child support, it’s ok to deny visitation.
Many people believe when the non-custodial parent falls behind on child support, visitation may be used as collateral to receive payment. This is not the case. Child support and visitation are two separate issues according to the law. Using visitation as leverage in this manner could be a violation of a custody order and could be dangerous. Instead, the custodial parent must seek the remedies available through domestic relations for the enforcement of a support order.
By committing infidelity, you give up everything.
One of the scariest myths people share about divorce is that if you’ve been unfaithful, you’ll lose everything – your children, your home, your assets and all of your rights. Infidelity by itself does not equate to you losing everything. Today, courts view divorce as the dissolution of an economic unit. Generally, infidelity has minimal, if any, impact on the case.
Divorces are ugly and bitter affairs.
Sadly, this may be true in some cases, but many lawyers genuinely care about the well-being of their clients and their families. A good lawyer will do their best to reduce the stress, anger, and financial impact associated with divorce proceedings. If you and your former partner have a reasonably amicable relationship, you could consider other routes, as well. Collaborative practice or mediation are great forms of alternative dispute resolution. These options allow you to avoid court which isn’t really designed for families.
These are just a few of the common myths of divorce. It’s wise to keep in mind that even though your good-intentioned friends are trying to help by sharing what they “know” about divorce, there is greater comfort in truth. Schedule a consultation with an attorney or two if you’re preparing for a divorce. They have the knowledge to give you the peace of mind you need.
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About the Author: Elizabeth L. Spadafore
Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010. She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.