Divorce Myths Uncovered

Whether living in the Inland Empire, Orange County, Los Angeles County or outside of the State of California “divorce myths” are popular beliefs and notions people tell each other but are fictitiously incorrect. Those divorce myths can be related to support issues, custody issues, marital property, mediation and the list goes on.

The following are just a sample of some of the myths attached to the divorce process:

1. Is it okay to deny visitation if the other parent does not pay child support?

False: The situation comes up when the non-custodial parent falls behind in his/her child support and the custodial parent decides that his/her delinquency justifies shutting him/her out of the children’s lives. This cannot be done. Child support and child visitation are separate issues. Court’s frown on parents even attempting to use one to leverage the other. Child support is not payment for the privilege of visitation. A custodial parent whose former spouse fails to pay child support must go to court to obtain an order for the collection of back support.

2. A spouse can deny the other spouse a divorce.

False: In the old days before no-fault divorce, one spouse could make it all but impossible for the other to end the marriage. Today, the liberalization of divorce, which began in 1970 in California, means that if someone wants out of a marriage, the other spouse can not deny it. No fault divorce means that no one has to stay married if he or she does not want to.

3. The mother automatically gets the children.

False: Mom does not automatically get the children. In many cases, the divorcing spouses agree that the children’s best interest is with the mother. In contested cases where both parents seek custody, the court refracts the question through the prism called best interests of the child. During the divorce process, where custody is in question, the parties are seen by a Court mediator. The mediator talks with the parties and tries to find a resolution to the custody issue. If no resolution can be determined, the case will then go before the Judge who will make a decision as to custody.

4. Keeping the house in my name means it will always be mine.

No, this is not necessarily true. For example, a man who owns a house at the time of his marriage but continues to pay off its mortgage with marital funds may give his wife an interest in the house he owns in his name alone. Most couples put the marital home in joint tenancy but property acquired during a marriage, including a house in the name of only one spouse, is subject to division and distribution in a divorce.

5. Equitable distribution means that both of the spouses get equal shares of the marital estate.

False: Equitable distribution means that the division of property will be fair. That does not necessarily mean half or even equal although that is often the result. Equitable distribution takes into account the financial situation of each spouse and is more flexible. For example, Courts can use equitable distribution to assign liabilities that exceed assets to the spouse who has the ability to pay the excess liabilities.

Portions of this blog taken from

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