How much do you know about divorce and family law? If you aren’t an attorney in the field, you might think that you know a bit about how family law works, but how much of that is accurate? You might be surprised to realize that quite a few myths and misconceptions have permeated this area of the law. These falsehoods have become so prevalent that they are often taken for fact. It’s time that you got to the bottom of three of the biggest of these myths.
Myth #1: Child Custody Always Goes to…
Without a doubt, who gets custody is one of the biggest “facts” that people talk about, but they aren’t always correct. Often, they will assume that the mother will typically get the custody rights for the child. In states like Arizona, they might automatically assume that the custody is always 50/50 between the parents. However, neither of these things is true. In Arizona, there is a trend toward equal parenting time, but it’s just that… a trend and not a requirement.
Facts are what matter in these cases. Where you live, where the child lives, the history of the relationship, the age of the child, whether there are mental health or addiction issues, or whether there is violence. These are just some of the facts that will be taken into account by the court.
The court wants to do what’s best for the child. In Arizona, this means that equal custody is the goal. It doesn‘t mean that it’s guaranteed. There are always extenuating circumstances and facts that need to be considered. In one case, for example, a mother was able to get full custody because she could prove that the other parent was psychologically abusive to her and the child.
The specific facts in your situation are what matters, not generalities. If you feel that equal parenting time is not the best solution, make it a point to speak to your attorney. They will look at the facts and let you know if it makes sense to fight for full custody.
Myth #2: Property and Debts Are Always Divided Equally
One of the other big myths is that all of the property and debts will be split evenly between the spouses. In most states, including Arizona, the courts require an equitable division. This is where the confusion might start for some people. Equitable does not always mean equal.
For example, for a short-term marriage that lasts for a few years, let’s say the couple creates a substantial amount of debt. This debt is community property. What happens when one of the spouses makes a lot of money and the other spouse makes only a fraction of that? In cases like this, it might make more sense to ask the judge to divide the debt based on the amount of income someone has. Therefore, the person with a higher income would be responsible for more of the debt. This would be equitable but not equal.
What happens if someone were to rack up a lot of debt buying clothing and shoes for themselves? These items are not for the entire household but are for the buyer’s personal use. They will also be taking those items with them in the divorce. Therefore, it could be reasonable to ask the court to split the debt, so they pay more. This would also be considered equitable although it is not equal.
It may be worth looking at the debt and the property when going through a divorce to see how it should be split. There could be more room to maneuver than you might have anticipated. Talk with your attorney about it.
Myth #3: A Mental Health Diagnosis Means You Will Lose Custody
If you or the other person in the marriage or partnership has a history of mental illness, it does not mean that you will lose custody. Just because there is a diagnosis or past problems with mental health, it doesn’t mean that you will lose custody.
However, those who have mental health issues that are untreated or unmanaged are most to have no parenting time. This is because serious mental health conditions that are untreated or unmanaged can cause people to make decisions that will potentially make you lose custody or not follow the guidelines that the court requires you to follow.
The diagnosis doesn’t matter unless someone can show that your behavior is causing harm to the children. For example, someone who has bipolar disorder or ADHD might make reckless decisions that cause them to neglect their children. Those decisions could cause you to lose time with your kids.
However, if you have a mental health diagnosis that is being treated, and you are getting the help you need and taking any required medications, it shouldn’t pose a problem. Again, the courts want to do what’s best for the children. Having both parents have time with the children is generally the most beneficial. As long as the parent is providing properly for the children and they are safe, a diagnosis shouldn’t result in lost custody.
Talk to an Attorney to Get Help in Family Law
These are just three of the biggest myths that tend to surround the family law field. If you have questions about any of the information discussed above or any other aspect of family law, the best thing to do is speak with an attorney. A family law attorney can provide you with the insight you need whether you are trying to get custody, are going through a divorce, want to set up a prenuptial agreement, and more.
Take the time to find an attorney in your area that can help you with all of your needs. It’s a far better solution than trying to navigate family law and the court system on your own. Additionally, make it a point to work with a team of attorneys rather than just someone who is solo. It ensures that you always have someone that you can contact in case your attorney is ill, for example. Work with the best for the best results.