There are many aspects of a divorce that people do not understand or have assumptions about that are incorrect. For some, knowing the truth or the law regarding certain assumptions could be a determining factor that can change their lives. The following are 7 divorce myths that are commonly held by persons unfamiliar with the divorce process:
- You can get full custody of your children. Few if any courts will give full custody, or parenting rights, to one party to the exclusion of the other unless there are aggravating circumstances. This would include evidence of abuse or sexual assault or the total indifference or disregard by one parent to the other’s rights such as visitation or regarding communication. Although you can have the majority of the parental time, the other party will have time based on the schedules of all concerned. Also, both parties will generally have shared legal custody, meaning that both have a voice in the material or major decisions affecting the child while having equal access to the child’s educational, medical and other personal records.
- You can deny the other parent visitation because child support has not been paid. If you deny visitation or parental rights to the nonpaying parent, you risk violating a court order and being held in contempt. The other parent is in contempt for not paying support as ordered but that is the court’s concern. So long as the court order granting parental time to the other parent is in effect, you cannot unilaterally decide it does not apply to you without severe consequences.
- If your spouse cheated on you, then you can get anything you want. This may have been true to some extent at one time, but grounds for divorce is out-of-favor in Massachusetts though it may still be used. The majority of couples use “irreconcilable differences” as the basis for a divorce, a catch-all category by which both parties merely need to check off a box attesting to this condition. If you use abandonment, adultery or infidelity, or physical or mental cruelty as a grounds, you will have to provide credible evidence. This can be a long, costly process with limited ends. Even if you do prove adultery, it does not mean the court will award you all that you asked for. The court will want to see what effect it had on the children, if they were witness to the adultery or if their health, safety or welfare was compromised. If not, then the court may not consider the other party’s conduct to be much of a factor at all.
- Letting your children take sides is to your benefit. Nothing could be further than the truth or harm you more than to inject your children into your marital discord and dissolution. Courts despise this and will probably chastise you from the bench in open court if you attempt to do so. Children are harmed emotionally by taking sides against a parent and can be manipulated by parents to say or do many things in return for added affection or the promise of a gift.
- Prenuptial agreements are only for the rich. Anyone can enter into a prenuptial agreement and are often recommended for parties who have their own substantial assets or who are bringing children into the marriage. Both parties must fully disclose their assets and debts, have the agreement reviewed by their own independent counsel and sign it at least a few weeks before the marriage. The agreement can clearly define separate property regardless of how it is used during the marriage and can limit spousal maintenance but not child support.
- Divorce is the only option. Separation can be a legal process that is similar to dissolution in most aspects other than dissolving the marriage relationship. There is no requirement that you have a legal separation even if you have children, but couples use it if there are Issues of custody or parental time, property distribution, child support and spousal maintenance. With a legal agreement, it becomes binding on the parties and subject to enforcement by the court. This is also an agreement that allows the parties time to contemplate whether to continue the marriage or eventually dissolve it.
- You can relocate to another state whenever you want. Some parents object strenuously to court orders that give the other parent more rights than the other believes are justified. In some cases, your ex-spouse may be dating, enjoying vacations or expressing pleasure that you are no longer in his/her life while you are dealing with the children on a daily basis and all of their issues. This does not give you license to take the children and move closer to your parents or family in another state without a court order since you are violating your ex-spouse’s parental rights. To obtain a modification of the parenting time order, you must demonstrate a substantial or material change in circumstances since the original order such as a change in employment. Talk to your Massachusetts divorce lawyer about seeking a modification.
Consult Divorce Lawyer Michael F. Mimno
Myths and ill-founded expectations abound in divorce matters, not least of which is “why can’t I get what my friend got in her divorce?” No two divorce cases are alike so expecting the same result as a friend obtained with different sets of facts and circumstances is not realistic. What anyone experiencing or contemplating divorce needs is a divorce lawyer who can explain the law to you and what you can reasonably expect based on your circumstances and the law. This is the benefit of having Massachusetts divorce lawyer Michael F. Mimno, a highly knowledgeable and experienced attorney, in your corner. Receive your free consultation and call Attorney Mimno in either his New Hampshire office at (603) 479-1152 or his Massachusetts office at (978) 470-4567.