Family law deals with legal issues that involve family relationships, including divorce, adoption, child custody, property division, and many more. Given the wide range of cases that family law tackles and the ever-complex laws involved, it is easy for the general public to have certain misconceptions about this area of legal practice.
Misconceptions can make it more difficult for families to navigate through their legal problems and may even cause unnecessary delays in proceedings. Hence, the family lawyers from trusted law firms such as Lewis & Matthews, P.C. address some of the most common ones in this article:
Misconception 1: All assets are split equally
This is a common misconception when it comes to divorce. When couples separate, property and other assets are not always split down the middle; it is more complicated than that, as there are a lot of factors that the court considers before dividing assets accordingly. Some of these factors include the financial contributions of each party towards the property, the future needs of each party involved, and non-financial contributions made such as child care or housekeeping. After these factors are evaluated by the court, it determines the overall property percentage that each spouse is eligible for.
Misconception 2: Parents can skip out on child support by giving up “parental rights”
Some parents believe that by giving up their parental rights (responsibilities and entitlements of guardianship, including visitation and decision-making about the child’s welfare), they can skip out on paying child support. While there are couples that arrive at this agreement, failure to pay child support is not in line with the law, regardless of the status of the parents’ relationship. Even if one parent is no longer a guardian or does not have a relationship with the child, a child has a right to receive child support from them based on the parent’s income.
Misconception 3: Mothers always get more custodial time with children
In many divorce cases, it is true that courts grant more custodial time to the mother. However, this is not always the case. According to the Family Code, a court cannot give preference to one parent over the other on the basis of gender when it comes to deciding custody. Mothers usually get greater custody timeshare because they are the primary caretaker of the children. But if the father has been the primary caretaker, they are often granted more custodial time.
Misconception 4: Prenups are only for rich people
Prenuptial agreements or “prenups” are written contracts that usually list all the assets and debts that each person owns and indicates the property rights of each spouse should the marriage end. People with significant wealth get prenuptial agreements to protect their property before entering a marriage. However, one does not necessarily need to be “wealthy” for a prenuptial agreement to be relevant, especially if they own businesses, create intellectual property, and have children from past relationships.
Misconception 5: Any lawyer is well-equipped to handle family law issues
Family law is a specialized field, and lawyers who practice it are the best ones equipped to handle family law issues. As mentioned before, family law encompasses a multitude of family codes and rules both on the federal and local levels. A lawyer that is not familiar with family law won’t be able to provide clients with the best kind of advice that a family law attorney can. Moreover, a family law attorney is more familiar with how family matters are tackled in court proceedings, which makes them better able to attain the best outcomes for their clients.
Misconception 6: The spouse who took out the loan must be the one to pay for it
Couples can claim properties and assets that they acquired during their marriage, but they should pay any loan or other debts that were taken out by both parties (given that the loan is not for individual purposes). Hence, spouses that are planning to separate must take any debts into account and be prepared to make equal payments for them.
Misconception 7: Separate incomes mean no community property
Earnings that both spouses earn from employment during the marriage are community property, regardless if there is an agreement or not, and even if these earnings are kept in separate bank accounts. Furthermore, assets that are purchased with money earned during the marriage are also community property, which is eligible for equal division if the marriage ends.
Family law is a broad area of practice, and so there are many misconceptions that surround it. By knowing the truth behind these myths, families will be more able to make sound decisions based on facts, which can help them save time, money, and energy in dealing with issues within the family.