Regardless if you’re the one asking for the divorce or not, the process of separating is challenging in many facets. Obviously, the emotional toll of divorce is arguably the worst part, as a divorce is often preceded by hurt. The process of divorce can be intensely stressful at times because you must figure out what the next chapter in your life looks like. The majority of this stress stems from concerning oneself with finances, property, and, if applicable, children.
A divorce undoubtedly forces individuals to make difficult life decisions, but those decisions are too often based on fear or preconceived notions. Of course, before making any major decision or signing any documents, you must consult with an attorney, but that’s not all. You should also perform research to better understand your state’s divorce laws. Before you begin this research, however, you should understand the most common divorce misconceptions. Clarifying these misconceptions will make the divorce process easier for you, as it’ll set your expectations in the right place from the beginning. Luckily, you don’t have to hunt these misconceptions down yourself—we break them down in our comprehensive guide below. Read on to learn more.
All Assets and Debts Are Split 50-50
Arguably, the biggest misconception on this list is that you will split all assets and debts with your ex evenly. There’s no clear-cut answer to this misconception because the result is different in every divorce and varies by state. That said, most courts do their best to divide assets and debts fairly, which can result in a variety of splits. Illinois law follows an equitable division principle, which means the state may choose to split assets 80-20, 70-30, or any other variation, though it rarely amounts to 50-50.
There are many factors the state takes into consideration when splitting assets and debts. Many judges will consider the timeline of incurred assets and debts. For instance, if your spouse accepted student loans to further their education before the marriage, the judge will likely rule that your spouse is solely responsible for repayment. Note that the previous scenario doesn’t apply to everyone, so you’ll need to communicate with your attorney to better understand the terms and conditions of your divorce.
Only Women Receive Alimony
Although it’s historically true that women typically received alimony, it’s not always the case anymore. In the past, women often stayed home to care for the house and children, and alimony often covered the money they otherwise wouldn’t have. Thankfully, women are stronger in the workforce than ever before, which shifted common alimony rulings. Nowadays, either spouse could receive alimony, or neither could at all. As with all judge rulings, there are many factors that impact alimony, including an individual’s age and income.
It’s Better to Make the Marriage Work If You Have Kids
You’ve probably been told you should try to make the marriage work, especially if you have children. While we agree that divorce should be a last resort, we also understand that divorce is the best decision for certain couples. You’re probably asking, “Shouldn’t kids have a marriage to look up to?” The answer is yes and no. Children look at their parent’s marriage and assume that’s how marriage should be. In other words, if you and your spouse are always fighting and stonewalling, you’re doing more harm than good for your kids’ future. Even if you don’t have kids, separation may be the best decision for your own health and happiness.
All Divorces Require Arguing in Court
Far too many couples prepare themselves for a contempt divorce, but not all divorces have to be that way. In fact, the majority of arguing in divorces is a result of each person being defensive and refusing to work together. If you’re looking for an amicable divorce, you must exhibit amicable behavior yourself. There are several options for couples who want to avoid extensive time in court, including mediation and collaborative divorce. Both options result in a faster divorce process, which also means fewer court costs.
Failing to Pay Child Support Means Reduced Visitation
Couples with children have unique challenges during and after the divorce, including visitation rights and child support. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and there may be times when a parent cannot make their child support payments. Custodial parents often believe they can decline visitation rights if their ex doesn’t pay child support. While the logic may seem sound, you can’t deny visitation without a judge’s order. In fact, individuals who use their child as leverage against the other parent are doing more harm than good. You should never put your child in the middle of pre- and post-divorce situations, especially if they’re young.
The Child Gets to Choose the Custodial Parent
Relating to our previous point about putting your child in the middle of divorce decisions, some parents think they can convince their child to decide which parent they live with. In most states, the child doesn’t get to choose who to live with unless they’re old enough. That said, younger children can make their preference known, which may influence the ruling. Traditionally, rulings almost always favor the mother, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore, especially as more dads choose to stay at home. Unsurprisingly, there are several factors that go into the judge’s custody ruling. First, the custodial parent must prove that they’re a fit parent, which includes having a stable home and income. Moreover, the judge will consider the parent’s lifestyle and history. For instance, if a parent has a history of substance abuse, the judge may not allow that parent to have sole custody.
To reiterate, no part of divorce is necessarily easy. Going through a divorce is an exhausting process for several reasons. One reason is that certain preconceived notions can lead to disappointment during the settlement. Understanding the most common divorce misconceptions will significantly improve your overall outlook and expectations during a divorce. One preposterous misconception that some people believe is that they don’t need an attorney. Regardless of how long your marriage lasted or if there are children involved, you always need an attorney to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Whether you’re looking for help with mediation, collaborative divorce, child support and custody, or a divorce settlement agreement in Illinois, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck is the team for you. Our team of lawyers takes immense pride in operating in the best interest of our clients. Our talented lawyers will support you throughout the legal process and help you understand your options. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us today. We look forward to representing you.