5 Myths About Getting a Divorce
When you are headed into a divorce, you may have heard a lot of things from friends, family, and the Internet. Unfortunately, the grapevine is not the best place to obtain legal advice and the Internet can be wrong. Before you decide to handle the situation yourself or make assumptions as to how the process will go, speak with an experienced Leesburg divorce attorney from our office. We can dispel a number of common misconceptions about divorce and help you move forward with realistic expectations about the journey and outcome.
Myth #1: Divorce is the same as separation. Filing for divorce does not automatically make a couple separated. Under Virginia law, separation occurs when two spouses live completely apart in their own or separate households. Unlike many other states, Virginia does not provide for legal separation, though there are ways to make a separation more formal, such as through a negotiated separation agreement. During either a formal or informal separation, the couple remains legally married. Only through a final divorce can the couple remarry.
Myth #2: All your property will be divided evenly. Many people head into a divorce believing that everything they own will be split down the middle, 50/50. This is rarely true. First, the court must determine what is marital property. There may be assets that technically belong to one individual and not the couple. Second, once the marital estate is determined, it will be divided equitably unless controlled by a prenuptial agreement or a settlement between the spouses. Equitably means the court will look at what is fair, which may not be even. The Court considers many factors when determining equitable distribution of marital property.
Myth #3: Physical violence is required for a domestic violence claim. There are many types of domestic abuse that can require someone to need a protection order for themselves or their children. Physical violence is not necessary. An individual who has been subjected to verbal or emotional abuse, including threats, stalking, or harassment may sincerely fear for their and their children’s safety.
Myth #4: The mother always gets the children. Many people believe it is more common for mothers to be granted custody of their children, particularly when the kids are young or female. However, in Virginia, there is no presumption or inference that a mother should receive full or a majority of custody of the children. Both parents have the right to seek full or joint custody, and the court will look at what is in the best interests of the kids.
Myth #5: Spousal support is automatic. The spouse with the lower income may assume that they will automatically receive alimony in the divorce; however, this is not true. Spousal support is not automatic. Virginia courts will first determine if alimony is appropriate, and if so, how much and for how long. There are no hard rules in determining alimony in Virginia, but an experienced Leesburg divorce attorney can help you understand what is common in the region.
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If you need help obtaining a divorce, contact the Leesburg divorce attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC to schedule an initial consultation. We are eager to assist you with your case.