In a world where information (and misinformation!) spreads like wildfire, separating fact from fiction takes effort and curiosity. But it’s worthwhile. This is especially true if you are considering a major life change like divorce. Taking the time to gather reliable information will help you make the best decisions possible moving forward. And you’ve come to the right place for that. Welcome to Part 2 of Divorce Mythbusting.
In Part 1 of this series, I unraveled these common misperceptions:
- Myth #1: I will be at an advantage if I initiate divorce instead of my spouse.
- Myth #2: If I leave the home, then I may be viewed as having abandoned my interest in it.
- Myth #3: Legal separation is a good option if I’m not ready for divorce.
Let’s tackle a few more…
Myth #4: Alimony is automatically awarded in certain divorce cases.
There is nothing “automatic” about alimony (also known as spousal maintenance). It is always the burden of the party requesting alimony to prove that they have a need for financial support and that the other spouse has the ability to pay while meeting their own reasonable expenses. If you’re not willing to put forth evidence to back up your claim, game over. Even in the case of a long-term marriage with a large income discrepancy between the parties, the onus is on the putative recipient to make their claim, prove it up, and counter any arguments and evidence from the other side. What might those arguments be? For example, the payor might argue that the recipient is qualified to earn more income than they are currently, i.e., that they’re voluntarily underemployed. All that said, a big reason why spousal maintenance exists is to recognize that generally both parties to the marriage contribute to it and should reap its benefits, financial and otherwise. So, parties needing maintenance should not be ashamed to pursue it.
Myth #5: The Courts favor mothers over fathers (or vice versa), on the issue of custody.
I can’t count the number of times someone has prefaced a custody or parenting-time question to me like this: “I know Minnesota is a pro-mom state, but…” or “I know Minnesota court favor dads, but…” In my view, neither is true. A mom isn’t favored because she is “mom,” has a certain gender identify, etc. Same is true for dad. Every parent in every case is different. More importantly, every child is different. The way that Minnesota law frames it (under Minn. Stat. 518.17): child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. What exactly is in the “best interests” of the child, in turn, requires the court to take into account twelve specific factors. They include each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any special needs (medical, educational, or other) the child has. If this answer leaves you with ten NEW questions, probably that’s an appropriate response. Custody determinations are often complicated and take time.
Myth #6: If my spouse and I mostly agree on how we want to divide everything, our divorce should be quick.
I wish this myth was true. It would certainly make the process less stressful. Unfortunately, however, it is a lot easier to tie the knot than it is to unravel it. The divorce process in Minnesota involves various stages, including serving the other party, filing the case (and deciding when), discovery, negotiation, and possibly a trial. The time it takes to finalize a divorce can vary based on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to cooperate. Often, a divorce will take a few to several months to complete. In some particularly acrimonious cases, it can take years.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series. If you are considering divorce or have another family law matter to discuss, please visit www.streitlaw.net or call 651-294-6157 or 651-237-3646 for a free consultation or to retain Angela.