Whenever family lawyers meet with a client there will be many things they need to discuss. There is obviously the divorce and no doubt the client will have several questions which they need to ask. In addition, the divorce lawyer may have to dismiss many of the assumptions and misunderstandings that their client may have about the whole process.
Some of this will understandably be due to the fact that most clients are not experts on divorce law, otherwise, they would be sitting on the opposite side of the table. In addition, there can undoubtedly be elements of the client’s beliefs about divorce that have sprung up due to some of the many myths that surround it.
Many of these myths get passed from friend to friend and relative to relative, no doubt in a spirit of trying to help, but they actually achieve the opposite by sowing the seeds of doubt and worry. Another reason myths can occur is due to the media that we see on our television and online. These can include movies that use dramatic license to create legal and courtroom scenarios that bear little relationship to the real thing.
One point about movies is that we get many of them from Hollywood which being in the USA will base their storylines on American law and the legal system as it applies to divorce there. The differences between how divorce is enacted in the USA and Australia are significant, so again this can lead to confusion and concern thinking that what happens in a movie is going to happen here.
So, in order to try to eliminate some of the concerns people have about divorce, we are going to dispel 5 of the most common myths about divorce in Australia.
Myth #1: Divorces Are Settled In A Courtroom
No, they are not. In fact, less than 10% of divorces end up in court. Most are settled via negotiations between the two parties and their divorce lawyers, and only go to court as a last resort
Myth #2: You Must Live Apart to Be Considered ‘Separated’
Not true. For financial reasons, for the sake of their children, or simply for convenience, a divorcing couple can still live in the same property, but obviously in separate bedrooms, and their individual finances being independent of each other..
Myth #3: Spousal Support is Only Payable Once The Divorce Is Final
A court can order that one spouse who is financially better off must pay their ex-partner spousal maintenance especially if that ex-partner cannot support themselves financially. Regardless of their finances, the obligation to pay child support is treated as a separate legal issue.
Myth #4: The Mother Always Wins Custody Of The Children
For the majority of divorce cases mothers may be the parent that the children end up living live with, but the concept of ‘custody’ does not exist in Australian family law, so both parents are usually granted equal rights. Which parent the children live with is a matter of discussion, or for the court to decide in the best interests of the children if no agreement can be reached.
Myth #5: We Were Together Less Than Two Years So He/She Is Entitled To Nothing Of Mine
There is no element of divorce law that says a property settlement for one party will be 0% if the marriage was less than 2 years. Even short marriages will entitle either spouse to a share of any assets accruing from the period they were together.