Recently, divorce rates have spiked across the world as people have had the chance to re-evaluate their relationships after seeing their faults during the lockdown and extended isolation.
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Moreover, with more and more people considering divorce every day, those people must understand it properly.
This article will discuss five common divorce myths people hold and the actual divorce facts in each situation to help people better understand divorce.
Divorce myth #1
Divorce is an inherently bad thing
It is entirely understandable why this misconception about divorce came about.
Often, divorce comes after a period of instability or upheaval in a relationship, and sometimes the divorce proceedings themselves can be as equally disruptive.
However, despite its potentially disruptive nature, divorce is not necessarily a bad thing.
It is important to weigh the disruption that divorce provides against the prospect of continuing a potentially untenable relationship.
Many divorces are settled amicably outside of court with little to no hassle, and divorce itself can serve as a new beginning for people, an opportunity to rediscover and re-imagine oneself and begin a new life.
Try to see divorce as a beginning as opposed to an ending. Doing so will help you come to terms with your divorce and help you cope with what you’re going through.
Divorce myth #2
Divorce settlements are always a 50/50 split
In an ideal world, yes, all divorce settlements would be a 50/50 split, and divorce proceedings would be much shorter and much less complicated. Unfortunately, life is a bit messy, and any proceedings detailing the separation of two lives can get messy too.
The court has to consider a wide variety of factors when carrying out divorce proceedings.
These include the employment history of both parties, superannuation funds, property or properties owned by both parties, debt accrued by either party, the financial and emotional wellbeing of both parties and any children involved, and many other things.
All those factors are considered before a fair settlement can is reached. Most of the time, all of those factors result in a settlement that is not a 50/50 split but one that is fair and equitable nonetheless.
Furthermore, while figuring out the intricacies of such a settlement can be difficult, rough estimates can be made using settlement calculators that account for the value of any assets both parties involved in the separation may possess and the balance of assets between them.
Divorce myth #3
Assets acquired after separation won’t be involved in the divorce
In actuality, there is legal precedent for the inclusion of assets acquired after separation in divorce proceedings and family law matters.
In the case of Farmer and Bramley (2000), a couple separated after a 10-year relationship. Both husband and wife had had children in previous relationships and had had one child together.
When they separated, they had no property of any value, and the couple’s child spent most of their time living with their mother.
A year after the separation, the husband won five million dollars in the lottery. Shortly afterward, the husband filed an application regarding his child. The wife filed a counter-claim requesting the husband pay her one million dollars as a property settlement from his post-separation winnings.
The husband disputed that claim. During the trial, the court ultimately ruled in favor of the wife’s claim and instructed the husband to pay $750,000 to the wife.
The court decided to do this because they judged that the wife had done more to maintain the welfare of the family during the marriage since she supported her husband while he was unemployed. At the same time, he studied while he battled a heroin addiction.
The court also recognized that the wife had provided more for her child than the husband had. They considered the child’s future needs and decided that the $750,000 was a sum of money they considered factors both past and present.
As with all cases, the circumstances regarding this case were unique and may not apply to your situation.
If you are currently engaged in divorce proceedings, it is possible that any post-separation assets may not come into consideration during the proceedings. Still, it is also possible that they do.
If you are worried about that, the best thing to do is to speak with a family law solicitor. They can help you understand what is likely to happen with regards to your situation.
Also watch: 7 Most Common Reasons for Divorce
Divorce myth #4
After separation, any debts accrued are the sole responsibility of the person who accrued them.
As with all aspects of life, debts can be messy. Moreover, as with assets acquired after separation, debts acquired after separation can be considered during divorce proceedings.
The court has a precise way of calculating which debts should be added to the property pool and tabled for discussion during the proceedings. Whether or not that occurs is dependent on several factors.
How the debt was accrued is one of those factors, one that is heavily considered. Gambling is one such manner in which debt can be accrued.
In the case of Crampton and Crampton, a husband received $400,000 in workers’ compensation, and his wife lost $140,000 of that gambling, to which she had an addiction.
During their divorce proceedings, the husband argued that the money lost should be added to the property pool because his wife’s gambling was a “reckless, negligent and wanton” loss of assets.
The wife argued that the husband was fully aware of her gambling addiction throughout their marriage.
She provided documentation from a psychiatrist that proved diagnosis of a disorder brought on by the gambling and the psychiatrist’s diagnoses that the disorder was unlikely to improve.
The wife also provided proof that she had made several attempts to get help during the time she was married, and after separating from her husband.
Ultimately, the court decided that it would be inappropriate to adjust the property assets for the divorce proceedings, and the gambling debts were not considered during said proceedings.
As with all divorce cases, countless other factors contributed to the court’s decision, including the financial status of both the wife and husband post-separation and the total value of their asset pool.
Furthermore, gambling debts are just one type of debt. Any potential ruling by the court will require them to consider the unique circumstances of each case.
Divorce myth #5
Divorce proceedings should be finalized as quickly as possible.
While it is true that divorce proceedings become increasingly expensive, the longer they carry on, it is important to weigh those increased costs across the potential costs that a hastily constructed settlement may cause down the line if it is unfair or inequitable.
Often it is much more financially sound to pay slightly higher legal fees to ensure that the proceedings are finalized in a way that ensures a fair settlement and prevents complications in the future.
Sometimes people may seek different divorce alternatives such as avoiding hiring a lawyer, which they see as a needless expense, and instead elect to work out a legal agreement directly with their ex-spouse or partner, often with legal documents or agreements found on the internet.
Unfortunately, such a course of action is often unreasonable as all private agreements made have to comply with all the laws of the family law act.
If even one of these laws is not met, any agreement made is deemed unenforceable in a court of law. Moreover, even a legally compliant financial agreement can be overturned if circumstances warrant.
All in all, divorce proceedings are incredibly complicated and require considerable knowledge and experience to carry out, something most people do not possess.
Consulting with a family law lawyers is the best option as they hold the necessary qualifications and experience to ensure a fair, equitable, and legal resolution to any separation.
Consider the cost of a lawyer against the potential costs incurred by improper proceedings, and the cost of the legal fees becomes much more reasonable.
All in all, divorce is complicated. It is understandable how many of the myths about divorce above have developed.
Some are what most reasonable people would come to believe, given their limited exposure to the topic.
Ideally, this article has helped clear up some of the common divorce misconceptions; however, as always, it is no substitute for actual legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
Speak with a lawyer directly if you require the advice of any kind with regards to divorce, separation, or family law.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Lauren Costanzo is the director and founder of Cudmore Family Legal, a law firm in Brisbane, Australia, and a mother of two. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with her family and producing content, such as blog posts and articles, that informs people about her areas of expertise; such as parenting and family law in which she holds a Bachelor of Laws. Lauren prides herself on being a small business and welness advocate.