Have you ever been to a party where the conversation turns to divorce? Putting the gossip aside, as a matrimonial lawyer, I am often surprised at the many misconceptions that remain prevalent regarding the divorce process in New York and how ingrained those misconceptions are in the common psyche.
For example, you might hear one of your friends saying “she caught him cheating, so she’s going to take him to the cleaners.” One thing simply has nothing to do with the other. While the proliferation of these myths could be the ongoing influence of pop culture or simply a friend whispering in their ear, this and many other misconceptions are commonplace and, whether or not they were true at one point in history, no longer apply to the modern process of divorce in New York.
Catching a spouse in the act:
There are many people out there who believe that they must catch their spouse “in the act” in order to file for a divorce. Although it was a long time coming, New York is now a no-fault state.
As a result, New York Courts no longer require that fault be assigned to one of the spouses as a reason to grant a divorce. Now, if either spouse desires a divorce in New York, he or she can seek a divorce based on irreconcilable differences.
A lifetime of spousal support:
“She/he will be set and never have to work again…” is another one that I often hear. While many people believe that divorce presents an opportunity to ensure a lifetime of spousal support, it is simply not the way the law works.
In October, 2015, New York passed permanent guidelines for spousal support by which the number of years of spousal support is calculated relative to the length of the marriage. Consequently, the concept of lifetime support is now over for most spouses, and a support award will typically match a time frame that falls between 30- 50 percent of the length of the marriage.
These guidelines serve to reinforce the notion that spousal support is a rehabilitative solution, and to encourage the non-monied spouse to ultimately seek some form of gainful employment after the dissolution of a marriage.
I will lose custody of my children if I file for divorce.
Many men think that if they file for divorce, they will automatically lose custody of their children and hardly see them again. In reality, recent trends point in the opposite direction. The New York Courts have caught up with societal trends by increasingly recognizing and supporting the important roles that both parents have in raising children.
The result is that today, more than ever, many fathers enjoy equal parenting time with their children even in situations of divorce.
Well at least She/He will keep the House.
It is not a given that the primary custodial parent will keep the martial residence. Although the Courts attempt to disrupt the lives of the minor children of a divorce as little as possible, and are willing to be somewhat flexible with the living arrangements of the parties, the primary custodial parent is not entitled, as a matter of law, to retain the marital residence. Determining factors will depend upon how the overall finances of the spouses are resolved at the end a divorce.
I will finally be rid of him or her.
For better or worse, if children are involved, the end of a marriage is never really the end. While the divorce proceeding will eventually conclude, at the end of the day, you will likely still share a lifetime of co-parenting and compromising about your schedules. In many ways, a divorce represents a new chapter in the relationship, but certainly not the end.
These and other misconceptions about the divorce are so prevalent that most people considering a divorce need to be “reeducated.” While family and friends can be a much-needed source of moral support and stability, when considering your legal alternatives in relation to your marriage it really is best to talk to a professional.
And while someone close to you may have lived through their own divorce, as any attorney will tell you, no two divorces are alike. Every divorce, just like every marriage, has its own unique set of facts and circumstances that will prove essential in determining the outcome. Be sure to seek out trusted and professional advice about a divorce and leave the urban myths to television shows and movies.
Author: Andrea B. Berkowitz