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Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law

Shelly Jean John, Attorney at Law June 9, 2021

Family changes can often seem intimidating. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the divorce rate in California is 9.4. Whether you are going through a divorce, figuring out child custody, or navigating other legal issues with family — knowing what to expect as you move forward can always simplify the process.

Over the years I’ve worked with clients who want to represent themselves and simply lean on a family law attorney for help. Alternatively, there are plenty of clients who want to completely turn their divorce case over to an experienced attorney for peace of mind. Here at my firm, The Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I’m proud to offer both options to clients in Ontario, California, and the surrounding areas of Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County. Call or reach out to my office today to learn more!

Dispelling Common Family Law Myths

After more than 20 years of working with individuals and families on a number of different cases, I’ve learned that there are quite a few misconceptions that many people have about issues related to divorce and family law. In today’s blog, I wanted to explore and dispel some of these common myths that often come up during the family law process.

Myth #1: It’s Possible for One of The Spouses to Deny or Reject a Divorce

No, a spouse cannot deny or reject a divorce and force you to remain married. They can make it difficult to obtain a divorce, but this does not mean it won’t happen. If a spouse is refusing to sign divorce papers, you can choose to file an uncontested divorce. This means that the spouse never responded to being served divorce papers and the terms of the divorce were granted. There can also be a default divorce granted, where the judge grants the divorce by default of the spouse not taking any action.

Myth #2: The Mother Is Always Awarded Primary Custody of The Children

This is not necessarily true. When it comes to custody, the courts will always try to operate in the best interests of the child. It may seem vague, but a judge will look at a number of different factors when considering what is best. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The living situation of each parent

  • How close the child is with each parent

  • The financial situation of each parent

  • Adjustment to the school and community

  • If there is any domestic violence involved

  • If there is any substance abuse in the household

The judge can also consider where the child wants to live if the child is mature enough to voice their opinions to the court. In addition, parents can draw up a custody agreement themselves and agree to that and the judge will only need to review it to make sure it is fair and sign off.

Myth #3: You Have to Get Divorced in The Original State You Got Married In

No, you do not have to get divorced in the state that you got married in. You or your spouse simply needs to be a resident of the state in which you are filing for divorce. In the state of California, you must be able to show proof of residency for at least six months in order to file for divorce.

Myth #4: Alimony Is a Required Part of Any Divorce

Alimony can be a part of divorce but it is not required for every divorce. Whether or not alimony is part of the divorce settlement depends on a few factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and health of each spouse

  • The lifestyle that the couple had during their marriage

  • The earning capacity of each spouse

Myth #5: The Children Get to Choose Who They Will Live With

This notion has some shades of truth to it, but is ultimately false. The children can voice who they want to live with and if they are older and mature, a judge will take their wishes into consideration. Children can even have attorneys as well, especially in cases that involve abuse or neglect. Ultimately, the best interests of the child will always be prioritized by California family courts. This means that if the child chooses to live with a parent who has a history of abuse, the court can and often will step in to prevent the abusive parent from obtaining custody.

Choose To Work with an Experienced Attorney

At the end of the day, an experienced family law attorney can help you through any of your family law needs, including divorce, alimony, child custody orders, or other legal needs. Working with an attorney who has mediator experience can make things even simpler, as they can help make a contentious and often difficult process easier to navigate through. As a skilled family law attorney who has experience with collaborative divorce, divorce mediation, child custody, child support, and more. I have a proven track record of helping individuals and families across Ontario, California successfully navigate their family law issues. If you are located in Ontario, California, or the surrounding areas of Riverside, San Bernardino County, or Riverside County, my firm is here to help. I provide reliable representation and counsel for families in need — all in an effort to revolutionize the practice of family law. Schedule a free phone consultation today to learn more about how I can help you move forward!