Perhaps no other legal proceeding — save for dramatic murder cases — has been portrayed as much as divorce has in books, TV shows, and movies. Additionally, just about every adult knows someone (or is Facebook friends with someone) who has gone through a divorce. Due to these dramatizations (and second-hand accounts), many people have preconceived notions about the legal process of divorce. We gathered four of the most common myths our team has heard over the years and provided some perspective on each one. Those appear below.
1. Cheaters are at a disadvantage during divorce proceedings. Those whose spouses were unfaithful during the covenant of marriage have every right to feel angry, hurt, and betrayed. While some couples stay together through such a crisis, many opt for a divorce. Sometimes, those raw emotions spill over into the divorce process; the victims of cheating might vow to take their spouses “to the cleaners.” In reality, adultery has little bearing on the divorce proceedings and final decree. One exception that occasionally comes into play during property division is a spouse’s spending marital assets to carry on an affair. Judges might order a smaller share of assets for the cheating spouse to make up for the lost resources. Time sharing (the legal term for physical custody in Florida) is rarely affected by adultery of a parent taken alone as a factor. The infidelity must have some bearing on the best interests of the child for the court to consider it as a factor in determining time sharing.
2. Spouses get a 50/50 split of marital property. Like the majority of states, Florida uses the equitable distribution system to divide marital property. This means that, while an equal division of marital property might be the best arrangement for a divorcing couple, judges are under no obligation to give each spouse an equal share. Instead, judges focus on what is fair and equitable, making their determination under a list of factors set forth in Florida statutes regarding dissolution of marriage. Additionally, the way property is titled (i.e. only one spouse’s name is on the deed to the house) has little bearing on division of marital property.
3. Moms have an advantage in custody matters. Based on antiquated gender norms, many people believe that courts have a bias when awarding time sharing during a divorce. However, Florida law states that there is to be a legal, rebuttable presumption of equal access to the children when the parenting plan is being made. While it’s true that mothers are awarded sole time sharing more often than fathers, these disparate results have lessened over the years as a result of a change in Florida law. Remember: the best interests of the child is the overriding standard courts consider when determining time sharing.
4. An attorney isn’t necessary. To be completely transparent, Florida law does not require spouses to retain an attorney prior to or during a divorce. However, representing yourself in court is much like performing brain surgery on yourself — in other words, it’s highly inadvisable. Divorce is a major event that will have a profound effect on the rest of your life. The time you will spend with your children during their formative years, what marital property you will receive, whether you will have enough money to make ends meet, and other consequential decisions are made during a divorce. Having an attorney by your side ensures your rights and interests are well-represented.
An important note having to do with the last myth, is that not just any attorney is right for your divorce. Retaining an attorney who focuses on family law (and, better yet, divorce) is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Divorce and Mediation Law Firm has navigated clients through countless divorces –freeing them from stress to focus on what is important to them. Call our firm today at (954)-447-2580 to set up a confidential consultation with our legal team.
Busting 4 Common Florida Divorce Myths
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