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Five Misconceptions about Family Law 

Separate Finances Will Protect You 

A lot of people believe that by keeping completely separate finances they cannot be held responsible for any of their spouse’s financial decisions. This is untrue. Even if you and your spouse maintain completely separate finances, you can be ordered to a portion of the debt they racked up during the marriage. And this is true regardless of whether or not your name is on the debt, or you even knew about it in the first place. Another common belief is that separate finances will protect your savings account in the event of a divorce. This is also untrue.  Your spouse may still have a claim to a portion of the money in your accounts that was earned during the marriage. This is true even if they weren’t ever on the account, and/or even in cases where they never put any of the money they earned into the account. 

Everyone Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement 

A lot of people tend to overestimate what a prenuptial agreement can actually do for them.  Prenuptial agreements can only protect separate property and separate assets. If you do not have a significant amount of assets, or a significant income, there likely isn’t anything to protect in the first place. Prenuptial agreements exist mainly to mitigate your exposure to financial liability, not to completely absolve you of any and all financial liability. When couples get married later in life, it’s not uncommon for both parties to have their own home and retirement fund. In such a situation, a prenuptial agreement could protect each party’s assets so that if a divorce did occur, neither party would be financially ruined later in life. However, if a couple gets married right out of high-school and they have a cumulative $10 to their name, a prenuptial agreement wouldn’t afford any protection because there’s nothing to protect. 

Bad Parents Can’t See the Children 

If a parent is capable of being involved in a child’s life, and the parent wants to be involved in the child’s life, they’re probably going to have some rights to the child. Although the court will act if there’s evidence to believe that the parent is not capable of parenting effectively or in some way a threat of harm to the child, it would be very unusual for a court to completely remove one parent from the child’s life, if that parent wanted to be involved. Generally speaking, there needs to be a documented history of abuse or neglect before the courts will intervene or strip a parent’s access to a child. In most cases, courts will not intervene the first time an issue is brought to their attention, especially if there is no solid evidence to prove that the abuse or neglect actually occurred. Depending on the circumstances, it can be very hard to keep a child safe from a parent who is not fit to have custody of the child. Therefore, if you have concerns about your child, you need to speak with a family law attorney who’s licensed in your area and who can give you legal advice tailored to your situation. 

The Court Punishes Bad Behavior 

A lot of people look to the courts to dole out orders and judgments that are designed to punish their spouse for bad behavior or get revenge for the “wronged party”. Most bad behavior such as narcissistic tendencies or infidelity have a very limited effect on a judge’s decisions. In many instances, your spouse’s behavior does not have any impact on the divorce process, assuming they aren’t breaking any laws or defying any court orders. The courts are unlikely to award you marital assets because your spouse had narcissistic traits or was unfaithful. Even if your spouse does defy court orders, it may be a long time before sanctions are imposed. These sanctions are generally intended to bring people into compliance with orders and ensure they don’t deviate from them, not necessarily to punish. 

There Are Ways out of Child Support 

The only way to ensure you won’t have to pay child support is to not have children. Different states have different standards and formulas used to calculate a child support obligation, so there may be things you can do to change your child support obligation—such as adjusting the amount of custody you have. Of course, this will depend on the facts of your situation. However, you cannot become voluntarily underemployed or unemployed in order to avoid paying child support. If the court knows you could be making a decent salary but you willingly chose to work a minimum wage job, your income could be imputed, and you could be ordered to pay child support based upon your previous salary. The primary ways to mitigate having to pay child support is having a co-parent that makes more than you and/or have at least 50% time of possession of your child. 


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