Myths and misinformation abound when it comes to divorce. Unfortunately, if you buy in to some of that hype, you may end up making decisions that cost you big in the long run. By working with an experienced divorce attorney throughout the process of dissolving your marriage, you’ll easily be able to separate the fact from the fiction.
If you are still thinking about filing for divorce, though, here’s some helpful information that will clear up some commonly held myths about the process. Since there are many commonly held misconceptions, this post will be first part of a series about this topic.
Myth 1: Women are always awarded custody
Fact: While it is true that, traditionally, mothers have been statistically more likely to be awarded custody, with the advent of custody laws that follow the “best interests of the child” standard, it isn’t simply because they are women that these custody awards have been granted. Custody decisions are made by judges in Minnesota after considering a number of factors set forth in Minnesota Statutes 518.17. These include the physical and mental health of all parties involved, the preference of the child (if he or she is old enough to express a preference), the history of the relationship between each parent and the child, the child’s current living situation and more.
Myth 2: Parenting time and child support are inextricably intertwined
Fact: This myth, like many out there, has a kernel of truth to it. Parenting time (once called “visitation”) is often awarded to the non-custodial parent, who is likely to be ordered to pay child support. It doesn’t mean that one is dependent upon the other, however. The custodial parent cannot legally withhold parenting time just because of non-payment of child support; there are legal avenues (including contempt actions, loss of driving privileges or even arrest) to pursue child support payments, none of which involve severing the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child.
The inverse is also true: paying child support doesn’t mean that you deserve parenting time if there are other factors that the judge deems would be detrimental to the best interests of the child. This could include, for example, the past presence of domestic violence against the child, or a history of drug abuse or serious criminal activity by the non-custodial parent.
We’ll revisit the issue of divorce myths in our next post.