The internet and media are full of myths, misconceptions, and straight out lies when it comes to divorce. As a divorce mediator and a relationship therapist I run across these all too frequently. So here are my top 10 divorce myths.
1 Having joint (50/50) custody means that no one will have to pay child support.
False. Even if the time a child spends with each parent is divided evenly, the parent who makes more money may still have to pay child support. This is since, in theory, that parent should be paying a higher percentage of the costs of raising the child.
2 If someone has an affair, she can lose custody of her children and all of her assets.
False. Having an affair does not impact the custody arrangement regarding your children. Additionally, in Georgia, there is supposed to be an equitable division of property, and someone having an affair does not change this fact–unless they used marital funds or property in the course of their affair, then that may be factored into how property is divided. However, it is important to note that in Georgia, If a man or woman had an affair, they lose their right to getting any alimony from their ex-spouse.
3 You can keep a divorce from being finalized by just refusing to sign the papers.
False. If your spouse files for divorce, and wants to end the marriage, there is nothing you can do to prevent a judge from granting the divorce. Every state will recognize what is called “no fault” divorce, which in Georgia is divorce due to a marriage being irretrievably broken. In this situation, if a spouse has filed for a no-fault divorce, there is not anything that the other spouse can do to prevent the divorce from being granted.
4 If someone doesn’t pay child support, he/she can be kept from seeing their children.
False. There are legal avenues that parents can take if their ex-spouse is not paying their child support in order to get the money that is owed to them. However, even if someone is not paying their child support, you are not allowed to deny them the right to see their child(ren).
5 Divorce has to be expensive.
False. One of the most common fears about divorce is that it is going to cost tons of money, and leave people broke, with no money left to start their new life. The average divorce involving children in Georgia that was litigated by attorneys, but settled out of court cost $18,500, while the average divorce in Georgia involving children that went to trial cost $25,800. These are huge numbers, and for many people could represent financial devastation. However, mediation provides another option. Mediation can cost as little as several hundred dollars, and often the average cost of a mediated divorce is approximately $2,000. While that is still a lot of money, compared to the costs mentioned above, for most people it represents a much more feasible route to divorce.
6 You have to count alimony as income on your taxes.
False (as of the beginning of 2019). Up until the end of 2018, people receiving alimony did have to count this money as income, and the people paying alimony were able to deduct this money on their tax returns. However, as part of the new tax plan, alimony is no longer counted as income or tax deductible.
7 It takes months or years to get divorced.
False. Second to money, this is the fear that I hear the most. Many people imagine that it is going to take months or years to get divorced. However, this does not have to be true. With mediation, it is possible to have the issues resolved within a matter of hours or weeks, as opposed to months or years.
8 You have to have a lawyer to get divorced.
False. You are able to get divorced without any professional help of any kind in Georgia. Each county will have forms for you to fill out and submit to the court, and you are able to divorce without assistance. However, some of the paperwork is complicated, and becomes more complicated if you have children and/or many assets. This is why it would be important to take this route with caution. Read More
9 If you receive an inheritance while you are married it is marital property.
False. Any inheritance or gifts that you receive, even while married, are considered individual and separate property. However, this is assuming that you do not mix the money with other joint funds (e.g., put it into a joint checking account). It should be kept separate from marital funds in order to make it very clear that it is individual property. In the case of divorce, this property should automatically go with the person who inherited it, and is not considered up for negotiation.
10 If someone is unemployed, they will not have to pay any child support since they have no income.
False. Even if you are unemployed, you still may be responsible for making child support payments, depending on your custody situation. When the amount of child support is being calculated, your income will be listed as minimum hourly wage x 40 hours per week.
Did this help solve any lingering questions? If you would like more answers to your divorce concerns or are interested in how a mediator can help in your divorce situation, set up a free 30 minute consultation.
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