Five Divorce Myths, Debunked

If you’re thinking about getting divorced, chances are you’ve encountered some myths about the process. Here are five divorce myths, debunked:

  1. I’m in a New York common law marriage: Many people think common law marriage is established once you’ve lived with someone for a certain number of years, no matter where you are. This is not true. Only eight states allow common law marriage, and New York is not one of them. New York will, however, recognize common law marriages established in other states.
  2. Women don’t pay alimony: The idea that only husbands pay alimony, even when the wife is the breadwinner, is an outdated misconception from when women primarily engaged in domestic labor. Today, the higher earning spouse may be directed to pay spousal support. In mediation, you can decide together whether support is necessary and who pays.
  3. I never put my spouse’s name on an asset, so it’s not marital property: Marital property is calculated differently depending on which state you’re in—and simply keeping your spouse’s name off an asset may not be enough for it to be considered separate property. Consulting with an attorney will ensure you know what to expect when it comes time to divide assets, whether you choose litigation or mediation.
  4. My ex was unfaithful, so courts will favor me: Today, courts rarely consider infidelity when dividing marital assets and determining custody. While New York does allow fault-based divorces for adultery, unless your ex’s conduct was extreme, it probably will not affect a litigated divorce. In mediation, however, you and your ex are welcome to divide property however you choose.
  5. Mothers have more custodial rights than fathers: New York, along with most states, takes a “best interest of the child” approach when litigating custody matters. Unless there is a reason not to grant custody (e.g., abuse or abandonment), parents have equal rights to pursue custody and visitation. In mediation, parents can come to an agreement about how to sort out custody, support and visitation issues.

Divorce mediation is a collaborative way to settle divorces, without going to court. Contact the knowledgeable Suffolk County divorce meditators at Solutions Divorce Mediation to learn more.

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