If you’re like us, you’ve heard plenty of horror stories about divorce, including some things that left you scratching your head. To people entering or going through it, divorce is scary enough. So let’s debunk some common myths.
Myth: Divorce can be denied by the court
As long as you meet the requirements of your state for a divorce, the court will grant it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be delays or challenges along the way. Even if your spouse believes the marriage can still be saved, once the financial, custody, and visitation issues are resolved at settlement or trial, the divorce will almost certainly happen. (Quirky legal caveat: technically, according to Colorado law, if one spouse refuses to get divorced, the case might go in front of a judge to decide if a divorce is warranted due to “irreconcilable differences” or not. We’ve talked to lots of experienced lawyers and no one has ever heard of this actually happening.)
Myth: If you cheat, you will lose it all
It doesn’t seem fair that cheating on a spouse should automatically cause you to lose your home, your assets, your rights, and even your children. That’s the way the courts in many states see it, too. In Colorado and other no-fault states, there are many factors considered in determining what is fair and equitable in distributing marital assets, but who cheated or didn’t cheat on whom is not one of them. If you’re not sure if you live in a no fault state, check here.
Myth: To get a divorce, you must hire a lawyer
Nope. You don’t need a lawyer to get divorced. You have the right to represent yourself in a divorce, the same as any other legal proceeding. But many people choose to hire a lawyer and that’s often a good decision. At the end of the day divorce is a legal process that involves a judgement by the court to be finalized, and divorce laws are unique in each state – sometimes, they even vary from county to county. Do your research to decide what’s best for you. Read Avail’s tips on how to choose the right legal team.
Myth: You must get divorced in the state where you were married
Relax, you don’t need to endure an uncomfortable roadtrip together back to the state that issued your marriage license. You can file for divorce in any state where you or your spouse resides and meets the jurisdictional requirements. For example, in Colorado one must be a resident for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce.
Myth: Most contested divorces have to be settled in court
This one is surprising to many people, but most divorces are settled out of court in other ways like mediation, with or without lawyers. Only a small fraction of divorces go to a contested trial or hearing.
Myth: The court always splits our assets and debts, including properties, fifty-fifty
This is a popular belief, but it’s a wildly oversimplified assumption. The way the law dictates the division of assets and liabilities depends on what state and county you file in. In Colorado, assets and debts are divided “equitably.” This means that one spouse could end up with more or less than half, depending on what the court considers to be equitable (which is not always the same as “equal”). In addition, not all assets and debts will be considered marital property. In other states like California, community property assets and obligations (generally items acquired during marriage) are equally divided between the parties. This is why Avail strongly recommends learning the laws in your own state and county, and consulting with good legal counsel where you are getting divorced.
Myth: Women get spousal support, men don’t
This is a myth based on outdated gender stereotypes. Fortunately, we’ve moved on. Spousal support, also called alimony or maintenance, is entirely discretionary in Colorado and many other states. The court can decide to award it to one spouse or the other, or not. The court will consider factors such as the amount of each person’s income, any marital properties given to one person or the other, reasonable financial needs established during the marriage, or any income that either of you will receive from marital properties in an ongoing way. How the court determines which spouse (regardless of gender) receives support, if anyone, and how much, varies by your specific circumstances and by state.
Myth: Divorce is always expensive
There’s an old joke that goes, “Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it.” The fact is, divorce doesn’t have to drain your bank accounts. Picking an efficient and effective legal team that aligns with your values and educating yourself on the legal process in your state will save you big time. The more you agree, the more you can do for your attorney (such as showing up with your financial disclosures all ready to go). and the faster the process, the less it costs. Pick your battles. A $60 blender isn’t worth a $200 legal bill.
Every divorce is different
Divorce may be common, but your own situation, needs, and concerns are unique. Divorce laws vary from state to state. Don’t expect the stories you hear to apply to you.
Go to school on divorce
There’s no substitute for researching divorce laws and procedures in your own state and educating yourself on how they apply to your situation. Choosing the right team to help you understand and navigate the legal details in your state will help you make better, more efficient decisions.
Beware the drama
Wild tales always seem to travel faster and farther. Stories of respectful, mature divorce may not be as enticing, but they happen every day.
We’re here for you
Hear a divorce horror story? Don’t panic. Take a deep breath, login to Avail, and check with the experts and your community. We’ll help you find additional, useful information.