Any divorce can be a difficult and confusing situation to deal with, but a lot of myths and rumors about what can and can’t happen during one don’t do anyone favors.
If you’re reading about divorce for the first time, chances are you’re coming across a mix of good information with information that’s dubious at best. Myths and misconceptions about divorce can be harmful because they can cause people to prematurely let their guard down, placing them at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating a divorce settlement.
While your legal counsel can help you dispel many of these myths along the way, we want to prepare an explanation for four of the most common we’ve encountered among our clients. Read on to learn why these myths about divorce are untrue and what the facts really are.
1. ‘Equitable’ Is Another Word for ‘Equal’
Our first myth concerns how marital property is divided during divorce. Texas is an equitable distribution state, which means it is among the majority of states that looks at dividing marital property in terms of what is fair to each spouse. Here lays the misconception: What is considered “fair” by the courts almost never amounts to an equal distribution of property, as is what occurs in a few other states.
An equitable distribution is determined by evaluating each spouse’s age, health, education, work experience, earning potential, separate assets, and liabilities. A judge might order an unequal distribution of property favoring a spouse who made career sacrifices to care for the home and children. The reasoning is that this individual will need more of the marital property to maintain the lifestyle they grew accustomed to during the marriage than the other spouse who has the earning potential to do so without such help.
2. Joint Custody of a Child Means There Is No Need to Pay Child Support
First, “child custody” is more of a colloquial term in Texas. The legal term referring to how time and responsibility for a child are split during a divorce is known as “conservatorship.”
Joint conservatorships are what they sound like in that both parents share responsibility for a child’s care. All joint conservatorships will come with a possession order that determines how much time each parent gets with the child, with one parent inevitably getting more time than the other.
When it comes to child support, the parent with less time with their children is often the same parent that will pay support to the other (often referred to as the primary conservator), even if both parents are joint conservators. All child support orders, however, are ordered only when the court believes it serves in a child’s best interests for such an order to exist.
3. A Woman Will Always Get Alimony
Many divorces feature some form of spousal support that one ex-spouse pays to the other for a period of time. As with equitable property distribution, there idea here is twofold: 1) The receiving spouse needs help to maintain the way of life they were accustomed to in the marriage; 2) the value they contributed to the marriage is measured by how they took care of domestic duties and/or provided child care.
While traditional family structures meant that a woman was likely to receive spousal support in a divorce, the spouse’s sex isn’t taken into account at all. If a woman was the home’s primary wage earner and her husband took care of their children and tended to domestic duties and earned less money as a result, he would be eligible for alimony. The same principle would apply for same-sex couples, too.
If neither spouse sacrificed their career and both remained employed throughout the marriage, chances are no alimony will be issued.
4. Infidelity Always Means One Spouse Gets More
A lot of people believe that infidelity automatically means that a cheating spouse will be punished by the court when it comes to distributing marital assets or determining conservatorship. The reality is that most divorces end up as no-fault divorces, even if cheating was involved. This is because the benefits of pursuing an at-fault divorces might not significantly outweigh those of a no-fault divorce.
While it’s possible to get more out of a marriage settlement by filing for an at-fault divorce, it requires a substantial amount of proof to win. This means pursuing an at-fault divorce can end up being a costly wild goose chase, leaving the spouse who was cheated in an even worse situation.
In situations where infidelity can be proven and does lead to a better settlement for the cheated spouse, the court is often accounting for marital assets that the cheating spouse spent alone. These can be gifts, vacations, expensive dinners, and other costs that were paid for with marital assets. Because a portion of the marital assets were removed for the sole benefit of one spouse, the court is inclined to award the other spouse an amount to make up for what they lost as a result.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
If you feel bogged down by how confusing divorce can be, get the legal guidance and support you need from Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. Our attorneys are dedicated advocates for our clients in a variety of legal practices, including family law and divorce. If you would like to learn more about what we can offer, please get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.