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Common Misconceptions About Divorce and Family Law

Crumpley & Crumpley PC July 13, 2022

Family Figure and Gavel on TableFamily law matters, including divorce, child custody, and other issues, are extremely emotional. They are not about business; they are personal. If you are dealing with such an issue, you may be receiving a significant amount of advice from others. Although their intentions may be good, their facts may not be.

Before you make an emotional situation worse by believing some of the horror stories you may hear, call Crumpley & Crumpley PC. At our law firm, family law is our sole focus. It is what we do, and we do well by our clients in Livermore, Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Danville, Dublin, Castro Valley, Hayward, and San Ramon, California, as well as those in Contra Costa County and Alameda County.

We can give you the facts about your family law matters. Let us begin with dispelling these common misconceptions about divorce and family law.

If you married in another state, you must get
divorced there.

Regardless of which state you were married in, you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months to divorce here. One of you also must have lived for at least three months in the county to file for divorce there. If you have a domestic partnership registered in California, you do not need to meet this residency requirement to file to have the partnership dissolved. However, if you don’t meet the residency requirement, the California court will likely be unable to decide issues such as property division and child custody and support. Those issues must be decided in the state with jurisdiction established by residency.

One spouse always gets alimony.

Alimony is not awarded in every divorce. It is only awarded when one spouse exhibits a need for spousal support and the other spouse has the financial means to pay it. Temporary spousal support may be ordered for the period during which the divorce process is carried out. Rehabilitative support may be ordered while a spouse is completing education or training necessary to make them financially independent. Or, the court may award long-term spousal support. How long depends on several factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning ability of a spouse, and the age and health status of a spouse.

If adultery is involved, the faithful spouse will
get everything.

California is a no-fault divorce state. There are only two grounds for divorce: a spouse suffers from insanity or the marriage is irretrievably broken, no matter what broke it. The court does not consider adultery in granting a divorce. It can, however, consider this behavior in the division of marital assets and debts. As a community property state, the marital assets are to be divided equally between the spouses. If a spouse spent significant sums of marital income on the adultery partner, the court may take that into consideration.

The mother always gets primary custody of the children.

In this day and age of two-income households, primary custody of minor children in divorce is not always awarded to the mother. Moreover, with same-sex marriages, it can be impossible to determine who is the “mother.” All custody issues the court decides are based on the best interests of the children. If the mother had been the primary caretaker of the children, it is likely the court will award her primary custody in divorce. If it was the father during the marriage, the court will likely award primary custody to him. Again, the court’s decisions will be based on what it considers best, and the least disruptive, for the children.

The children get to decide who they live with.

Children do not get to decide. That responsibility rests solely with the court acting in their best interests. It is accurate, however, that the court may consider the wishes of children ages 14 and older so long as they have the maturity and capacity to express their opinion. In fact, children younger than 14 may be allowed to express their wishes with the court’s permission. The wishes of children may be weighed, but they are not the determining factors for awarding custody.

If the other parent doesn’t pay child support, visitation can be withheld.

If the court orders a parent to pay child support, that parent is bound by that order. There are repercussions if the parent fails to abide by any order of the court, including this one. However, visitation cannot be used to punish a parent in arrears. Visitation is awarded for the benefit of the children and their relationship with the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is not only prohibited from withholding visitation for any reason, but risks losing primary custody for that action.

Get the Legal Guidance You Need Today

It’s easy to believe the stories told by others when you are grappling with divorce or child custody. You will need to make many important decisions during the process, so make sure you are basing your decisions on fact, not fiction.

You need to consult with experienced family law attorneys. If you live in Livermore, California, or the surrounding areas, you need to consult with us.

Call Crumpley & Crumpley PC now for the truth.