Common Myths About Divorce & Family Law
Hill Law PLLC is a Buffalo, New York, law office that helps area residents with many issues in divorce and family law. Our firm works hard to help our clients get the best results from what can be a very difficult situation.
We also believe it is important for clients to understand their legal options. With that in mind, here are some common misconceptions about divorce, with explanations that should clear up some of the confusion around the subjects.
‘If the Property Is In My Name, I Get to Keep It’
Many people assume that if the house title has only one spouse’s name on it, that spouse automatically gets to keep the house in a divorce. This is not always true.
There are a variety of things that can influence the distribution of property. You should not assume that you will or won’t get to keep property. It is not a simple process. A skilled attorney is crucial to guide you through this process and can ensure that your best interests are being advocated for.
‘I Will Have To Pay Alimony Forever’
Alimony, known as “spousal maintenance” under New York law, is money paid by one former spouse to another.
Spousal maintenance is not required after every divorce. However, it may be required in cases where one party would be badly disadvantaged without it. For example, if one spouse had a high-paying job during the marriage while the other gave up a career in order to stay home with the children, the working spouse will be able to keep working at his or her job, while the stay-at-home spouse will be at a distinct disadvantage when looking for work. Spousal maintenance is meant to be rehabilitative and bridge the gap until a spouse can earn income.
‘The Mother Will Automatically Get The Kids’
Many divorcing couples assume that the court will automatically award full custody of the children to their mother. This assumption is based on old ideas about family roles and the law, and rests on a misunderstanding about child custody law.
Under New York law, there are two terms that you will hear that are often misunderstood: custody and visitation/access. Custody involves the ability to make important decisions about raising the child, including decisions about medical care and education. Access/vistitation refers to time that is spent with the child.
Generally, each parent has rights to both custody and visitation/access. The parents typically decide between themselves how they will divide physical and legal custody. For example, a physical custody agreement may specify that the children live with one parent during the week and with another on weekends. The parents will also negotiate a way to respect each other’s wishes regarding legal custody decisions.
If the parents cannot agree, a court will decide based on a legal standard known as the best interest of the child. This standard controls most decisions courts make regarding the welfare of children, and it requires the court to look at a series of factors, including each parent’s ability to care for the child, the parents’ work schedules and more.
Parents are strongly encouraged to work together and reach a compromise regarding custody and access. Attorneys and mediators are able to assist with this process. The goal is to create a detailed schedule of access/visitaion and to create a custodial framework for the parties to follow. No agreement can be followed perfectly because “life happens”, but the agreement is meant to be a framework in the event of a disagrement.
‘My Case will Only Take a Couple of Months’
The truth the length of time varies from case to case. There are many things that can affect the timeline. Factors such as a lack of discolure or cooperation can impact the time it takes for your case to resolve. It is important to have a skilled attorney by your side to make sure nothing is missed and working for your best outcome.