Many people think that when it comes to how our legal system works — be it family or criminal law — what they see on television shows and movies is how it all 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.
When it comes to divorce, there are many misconceptions over what is true and what is not. Some of these misconceptions include:
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, it is just the couple has decided to end it.
It is important to note that states do have “fault” grounds, which does include abandonment, adultery, bigamy, and extreme mental and/or physical cruelty. As mentioned, these grounds may not affect the divorce settlement, but they can affect child custody and visitation issues.
Another misconception people often have is that everything will be divided between the two spouses right down the middle. However, that is not the way divorce settlements work. The majority of states are equitable distribution states, which means that the court will take all the assets a couple have — 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.
Hiding assets 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, the court has been known to take all those hidden assets and award them all to the other spouse.
It is important to remember that the above information is general in nature, and that each case has its own set of circumstances that may affect the final outcome.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
If you have decided to end your marriage, or your spouse has filed for divorce, you need a seasoned attorney advocating for you. Call a law firm today to schedule a free consultation with a divorce lawyer Tampa, FL divorcees are fortunate to have in their midst, to find out how they can help. Divorce attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of family law, including child custody, child support, division of property, and more. A legal team will use all available resources to get you the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
Thanks to The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law and divorce misconceptions.