Five Common Divorce Myths

Divorce is a difficult time, and a decision whether or not to seek a divorce or to stay in an unhappy marriage is often heavily impacted by common misconceptions about the divorce process.

  1. Divorce Must Always be Contentious

Not all partners going through a divorce disagree about everything.  Nor does a divorce mean that one partner is to blame.  If you and your partner are able to reach an agreement on some or most issues, such as child custodyalimony, and property division, you will be able to work out the details of these issues in a written settlement agreement and then formalize the agreement through an uncontested divorce. 

  1. Your Partner Must Agree with and Participate in the Divorce Process

The flipside to #1, above, is that you do not need the consent of your partner in order to obtain a divorce.  Our system recognizes that no person should be forced to remain in a marriage if they no longer want to be.  If you are sure about your divorce, work with your attorney to file a complaint for divorce and get the process started.  Your spouse will be provided with notice of the proceedings and the court rules establish a given time frame or deadline for them to respond.  If they fail to do so, the court will enter a default against them, followed by what is called a default judgment, which allows you out of your marriage even if your spouse does not participate in the divorce proceedings.

  1. You WILL End up in Court

Even if you and your partner disagree on some major topics, that doesn’t mean that the remaining issues can only be handled by a judge.  In fact, most cases never reach the point of a trial.  More and more couples opt for alternative dispute resolution, usually in the form of mediation, and it’s possible for partners to negotiate and eventually reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

  1. Maintaining Separate Bank Accounts Protects Your Finances

Separate bank accounts do not mean separate finances.  All financial accounts held by divorcing partners must be disclosed up front, no matter whose name is on the account.  In New Jersey, there is a presumption that any money earned during the marriage is considered marital property.  In the event of a dispute, the court will determine an equitable division of assets, including these accounts. 

  1. Custody of the Children Always Goes to the Mother

For many years, it was assumed that the mother would be granted physical custody of the children.  As a result, mothers sometimes take it for granted that the children will live with them most of the time. However, nowadays this is not the case.  More and more mothers and fathers are sharing physical custody of the children equally when possible.  The court will consider the best interest of the child above all other factors when establishing a parenting plan for the sharing of the physical custody of the children.  

If you have any questions about a divorce, consult a member of the Cohn Lifland matrimonial team.  We deal in facts, not myths.