If you haven’t been through a divorce, you are likely unfamiliar with the realities of the process. Quite often, people who are considering divorce lean on the knowledge of their friends, family or coworkers for advice. Unfortunately, a lot of that information may be founded on ignorance. Common myths about divorce may cause people to take actions or make decisions that may end up hurting them. We suggest that if you are considering a divorce, you contact and receive professional assistance before making any rash decisions.

The following is a list of twelve common myths about divorce that do not hold any water:

  1. Adulterers lose everything. Contrary to common belief, being unfaithful to your spouse does not mean that you will lose anything. It can certainly lead to a divorce, but in and of itself, does not entitle the other party to property. If a person commits adultery and uses wasteful dissipation of marital assets, that can be a factor in cases of equitable distribution.
  2. Visitation will be denied if child support is not paid. Threatening or denying a parent visitation of their child is not a valid or lawful response to missed child support payments. Instead, there is a process for enforcing child support obligations. Contrary to popular thought, access to children is not related to the payment of child support.
  3. People can deny divorce. Television and movies often suggest that divorces can be denied. In reality, once you ask a judge to grant you a divorce, the judge can not deny your request. After all custody, visitation and financial issues have been sorted out through a trial or settlement, a divorce will be granted.
  4. Lawyers must be present. People are allowed to represent themselves in a divorce, but it is strongly discouraged. If finances are an issue for you, the government will issue you a lawyer to make sure that both parties are represented.
  5. Mothers always win child custody. Although there used to be a bias in favour of mothers, society has evolved quite a bit. Today’s decisions about visitation and custody are now made on the basis of the best interest of the child, which depend on circumstances and characteristics and not gender.
  6. Child support can be avoided. Child support payments are established by law. If you have a child under the age of 18 and you are not the custodial parent, you have to pay child support. If you fail to do so, the government will take aggressive actions to enforce the child support orders.
  7. You have to get divorced in the province you were married. This is simply not true. The law understands that people move. Wherever you live, you can file for divorce where you are.
  8. Children get to decide who they live with. Although a judge may take into consideration a child’s wish to live with one parent over the other, the decision is not up to the child. Judges will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
  9. Divorce always leads to conflict. Divorces are often filled with hostility and blame. But not all divorces are. Seek out divorce attorneys who focused on mediation and resolving conflicts, as opposed to starting or escalating them. This can make the divorce a process of negotiation instead of argument.
  10. Most divorces end up in court. Many divorces resolve themselves without the need to go to court. Contrary to popular thought, divorces don’t always involve trials where children have to testify and expensive court bills. If parties can reach an agreement on all issues, a trial is not necessary.

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