5 Common Misconceptions About the Divorce Process

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5 Common Misconceptions About the Divorce Process

The internet has made getting accurate information about a subject easier than ever. So why are incorrect rumors about divorce still so common? 

Two factors make misinformation and misconceptions about a topic more likely to spread: complexity and frequency. Divorce is both complicated and incredibly common. As a result, there are plenty of chances for people to misunderstand the process and spread incorrect information to other people. 

Unfortunately, these misconceptions can make people delay or avoid getting divorced when it would be for the best. Below, we’ve debunked five of the most common rumors about divorcing in California and explain the truth about the process.

1. Divorce Is a Battle

The most common but inaccurate belief about getting divorced is that it has to be a big, messy court battle. After all, the splits that make the news always seem to be fueled by anger, jealousy, and bitterness. 

However, these cases are the minority. Most divorces are settled before going to court. California law incentivizes couples to work together and draft their own divorce settlements instead of having a judge make every decision for them. 

Many Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods exist for settling your split out of court. You could use collaborative law practices to work directly with your partner and your lawyer to draft an agreement. You could attend mediation if you need a neutral third party to keep negotiations on track. You could even consider arbitration if you need an outside party to make a ruling but don’t want to wait to go to court. Your lawyer can help you choose the best ADR method for your divorce. 

2. Men (or Women) Get Better Treatment During Divorce

Depending on who you talk to, you might walk away with the impression that one gender always “wins” during a divorce. Some people claim that men always get better deals for asset division and spousal support, while others argue the same about women. Similarly, fathers’ rights advocates often point to historical inequalities to claim mothers always get child custody. However, none of these claims are true anymore. 

State law requires judges to ignore a couple’s genders when deciding matters in a divorce. In other words, the judge cannot use either spouse’s gender as a deciding factor for spousal support, asset division, or child custody. While there are occasional instances of bias in the court system, California penalizes those heavily. If you’re concerned that you’ll “lose” your divorce because of your gender, you can trust that your lawyer will ensure you receive fair treatment.

3. The Person at Fault Loses Out

This is less of a misconception than an old belief that’s no longer true. Until the introduction of no-fault divorce laws, couples could only end their marriages if one person committed one of a few strict “violations.” These faults could include adultery, abandonment, or abuse. Not only did this force people to stay in unhappy marriages against their will, but it also hurt the person “at fault” in the divorces that occurred. Spouses found at fault for the split were often penalized by receiving a smaller portion of the marital assets. 

This is no longer the case. Today, California no longer recognizes fault divorces. All splits are held to the same equal property division requirements, regardless of cause. 

The only exception is if you have a specific clause in a prenuptial agreement that addresses infidelity or abuse. These clauses may award the injured spouse a greater share of certain assets or relieve them of the responsibility to pay spousal support. However, these clauses must be carefully structured to be considered enforceable. Furthermore, even with a prenup, you cannot be penalized for requesting a divorce. 

4. You Have to Divide Every Asset Equally

You may have heard horror stories about people being forced to sell their homes to split the profits equally in their divorce. Rest assured that is the exception, not the rule. 

California’s community property laws are not intended to force couples to split each asset down the middle. Instead, they are designed to protect both parties’ rights to a fair division. Assets only need to be divided down the middle if no other solution exists. 

The most common alternative is for couples to split the value of the total marital assets in half rather than splitting each item. For example, one spouse could take full ownership of the house, while the other person would receive a greater share of liquid assets in exchange. 

Furthermore, splits do not always have to be exactly 50/50. California permits couples to set the terms of their divorce settlement, including the exact division of assets, as long as both parties freely consent. If spouses choose a division that is not exactly equal but is still reasonable and fair to both parties, the court will likely approve it. 

The only time a court will interfere and require spouses to split an asset down the middle, or worse, sell assets and divide the profits, is when they absolutely cannot agree on any other solution. This is unlikely to occur outside of the most adversarial and drawn-out splits. 

5. Legal Counsel Isn’t Necessary for Divorce

You are not legally required to hire an attorney to end your marriage. However, unless you are childless, have minimal assets, and have only been married a short time, you should still work with a lawyer during your divorce. 

Your lawyer is more than just legal representation if your divorce goes to court. They will also explain your rights, provide legal counsel if you negotiate your settlement, and ensure all appropriate documents are drafted correctly and submitted on time. Without a good attorney, you risk making mistakes that could drag out the process for months.Don’t let myths and misconceptions prevent you from starting a new life. Reach out to the skilled Newark divorce attorneys at the CC LawGroup about your situation and take the first step toward your future today.