Nervous about an upcoming divorce court appearance? With so many exaggerated court scenes featured in today’s television shows and movies, how could you not be a little afraid? However, divorce court may not be what you’re expecting. Here are some common myths about divorce trials, and the truth behind them.
Myth: All divorce cases are settled in a court trial.
Fact: Actually, a minimal number of divorces are settled in court. Taking a case to court often escalates the cost of the divorce quite a bit, and also creates a more profound and longer-lasting divide between parties. A good lawyer typically works hard to ensure that a settlement is reached to avoid trial.
Myth: I need a lawyer to settle my divorce.
Fact: According to Morrison Mediation, at least 50 percent of divorcing spouses are self-represented when appearing in court. However, this does not mean all self-represented parties are successful. Paralegals and Legal Document Assistants can help you prepare for court without enlisting an attorney. But an attorney will have more experience and can offer advice and information along the way.
Myth: A judge will side with me because that’s what’s fair.
Fact: Unfortunately, one side of a divorce (or even both) will typically feel like the judge hasn’t been “fair.” However, it is not the judge’s job to deliver fairness; it is the judge’s job to determine how the law best applies to the case. Even if both sides feel “right,” the judge will examine the facts and interpret what the law decrees.
Myth: I can’t win custody of my children without going to court.
Fact: When going through a separation, most parents work hard to keep their children happy and stable. Research shows that parents who use mediation have a better relationship with their children. Mediations, unlike court trials, often work better in handling custody plans, because they help both partners understand their ongoing relationship as co-parents. Both people want what’s best for their children, which provides some common ground to work on.
Myth: Women always win maintenance/alimony, and men do not.
Fact: Many women do not receive any alimony. Most often, alimony is given to stay-at-home mothers who left the job market to raise children and thus have expired job skills. However, a younger, employed woman in a short-term marriage will most likely not receive spousal support. Alimony decisions are based on the economic status of spouses. In today’s society, it is not uncommon for women to earn more than their husbands; in fact, some states have adopted gender-neutral guidelines to determine how maintenance is awarded.
If you have more questions about divorce court, join us at one of our monthly workshops.