When a married couple decides to part ways, the process may seem mysterious and daunting. Divorce is something that many experience but few understand until they do.
There is a lot of misinformation about what happens before, during and after divorce proceedings. You may have some notion of what occurs, most often from friends or family accounts. Take a look at four of the most common divorce myths still circulating today.
1. Children decide who they live with
Probably the most egregious myth is that which indicates children have the power to choose which parent wins the custody battle. While Massachusetts takes the opinion of children (typically over 13 years old) into account, the courts have full discretion as to making the final decision. This cuts down on parents playing the kids against each other.
2. Divorce denials happen
If you petition the court for a divorce, you will eventually get it. While it may not happen at the speed of light (as you may prefer), you will come out of it legally divorced. An uncontested divorce may resolve quicker since one spouse is absent or does not cross file.
3. If one spouse cheats, he or she loses all rights
Adultery is a grounds for divorce in Massachusetts, but it does not mean the party who did the cheating loses custody and property. Those accused of adultery may suffer some consequences in property division if they drain marital assets during the course of the affair, but that is usually the extent.
4. You do not have rights to the kids if you do not pay child support
A big myth is that if the noncustodial parent does not pay child support for one reason or another, he or she loses the right to exercise visitation. The court does not see fit to punish a parental relationship for lack of payment.