Common Misperceptions Concerning Divorce
There are numerous, common misperceptions about divorce which can undermine sound decisions. Family law attorney Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP Law Firm uses her thirty-five plus years of family law experience to educate clients about their best legal options tailored to their unique needs and objectives. What are some of the more common misperceptions?
1. Misperception: The party filing the petition to start the divorce (“Petitioner”) which starts the divorce has an advantage. This is generally not true because there is no presumption the Petitioner stands on higher legal ground than the other party. There is one exception, however, to this. For parties residing in different counties, the Petitioner determines the case’s location by filing for divorce in the county of his/her choice and this can be important because the judges’ views on custody/spousal maintenance may vary depending on the county. Also, logistically, the Petitioner will minimize his/her costs of travel outside the county of residence.
2. Misperception: Women automatically are awarded custody of the children. Custody, along with parenting time, does not depend on the parent’s gender, but upon an analysis of the child’s “best interests.” To determine “best interests,” many statutory factors are considered, including, among other things: the child's physical, emotional, and cultural, needs; the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child's needs and development; any special medical, mental health, or educational needs of the child; and each parents’ willingness/ability to care for the child.
3. Misperception: Women never pay spousal maintenance. In fact, the determination of whether payment of spousal maintenance is appropriate is gender neutral. In determining whether maintenance should be paid, the court considers a variety of factors, including each person’s income, what the marital standard of living is, whether a spouse lacks enough income producing property to provide for his/her reasonable needs, or is unable to provide adequate self-support through employment.
4. Misperception: Lawyers just complicate things. In fact, an experienced lawyer can efficiently address the issues in your divorce, eliminating the need for costly litigation. Even in relatively “simple” divorces, with limited assets and cooperation concerning custody/parenting issues, there is still the need to comply with certain legal rules, along with the need to properly document the terms of the divorce in a divorce decree which will need court approval. Further, the parties cannot hire just one lawyer because of the ethical prohibition against dual representation.
5. Take away: Avoid falling prey to the common misperceptions regarding divorce. Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP Law Firm and her colleagues are skilled at guiding clients through divorces and helping them avoid pitfalls. Please contact us for an appointment if you’re considering divorce or are a party to one.
Minn. Stat. §§518.17 and 518.552.
“20 Common - but False - Beliefs About Divorce and Money,” Money Talk News (August 3, 2021).
“13 surprising facts about divorce in the US,” Business Insider (July 30, 2020).