Myth 1: Divorce is Too Easy
I have helped hundreds of families through separation and divorce and can say that none of my clients felt that divorce was "too easy". It is a painful process. Everyone struggles through it - whether the marriage lasted 45 years or two weeks (I have helped clients through both extremes). Even those who initiate the divorce ruminate over their decision for about 5 years before they actually move forward and they too go through the same emotional stages of divorce. Divorce is akin to a death in the family. It is tough.
Resolution of the issues is not easy either. If you end up in Family Court, it can take 1 to 3 years to achieve a resolution and many, many thousands of dollars. If you use the Collaborative Team process, resolution is faster and cheaper but there are always bumps in the road. Separation and Divorce is not easy. Make sure you have a good lawyer helping you.
Myth 2: Women Always Win in Family Court
Ask any woman who has been in Family Court and they will tell you they don't feel like the "winner". Most women financially suffer more than their husbands after the marriage and end up with more responsibilities caring for the children. More work and less money. It does not feel like a victory.
Myth 3: Men Can Never Get Joint Custody in Family Court
There is a growing trend among judges to start with the assumption that it is in the best interests of the children to order joint custody. Except in high conflict cases or where the parties cannot communicate effectively ever, joint custody is becoming the norm. Joint custody means you will make decisions related to the children together. It is not about the children's schedule with each parent. That's a different issue altogether.
Myth 4: Children of Divorce Always Suffer
Children suffer when they are in the middle of the conflict between their parents, regardless of whether the parents stay together or get a divorce. In fact, often the divorce leads to less fighting by the parents which creates a better circumstance for the children. Children of divorced parents often develop greater resilience to change.
Myth 5: Marriage has Always Been Part of The Christian Tradition
It wasn't until the year 1215 that marriage became part of the church "traditions". In fact, at that time, divorce was prohibited by the divorce except in circumstances of church-sanctioned annulments. A great book that includes a history of marriage is "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Myth 6: Collaborative Process is Only For Simple Cooperative Case
The Collaborative Process (CP) is the best way to resolve family law issues. Even the most difficult cases can be resolved using CP. The advantage to CP is that you have a team of professionals committed to achieving a resolution. The Family Coach can help navigate you through the emotional stages of divorce and help resolve issues related to the children. The Financial Specialist can help resolve the financial issues without a battle. The lawyers offer advice and have special skills to overcome impasse. Mechanisms can be put into place to balance the playing field between clients. On the other hand, Family Court often fuels the fires of discontent between the parties. Collaborative Process works for even the most difficult cases.
Myth 7: Common Law Relationships and Marriage Are The Same
When you live together in a relationship akin to marriage (but you don't formally get married), you are common law. That does not mean you share equally in the division of property acquired during your relationship upon separation, just like if you were married. Common law couples have to prove that that they contributed to acquisition, preservation or maintenance of property to obtain an interest in it. It certainly is not automatic and in fact is an "up hill battle" in most cases.
Myth 8: I Will be Vindicated in Family Court Will
Judges don't determine whose fault it was that the marriage ended. This is irrelevant to the judge. They are just looking at the facts of the case and making decisions based on the state of the law at the time. Even if your spouse committed adultery, it won't affect the equalization of property or the issue of spousal support or child support. It won't even affect the issues related to the children.
Myth 9: If I Leave the House, I Can Be Charged with Abandonment
There is no charge of "abandonment" for leaving the home when you separate. If you leave your baby at the mall, that is abandonment and you will be charged criminally. I recommend that either you or your spouse should leave the home as soon as possible after it is determined that you are separating. Leaving the home avoids a potential escalation of the tension. It is best you have determined a schedule for the children before you leave so that you can tell the children, together, when they will see each of you. Remember to take with you your personal items and any agreed upon items. If there is some disagreement about the household content, walk through the home with a video camera so you can remember what is in the house and you can negotiate the items later. If there is no agreement regarding the children's schedule with each parent, you may want to stay in the home until resolution is achieved. In any case, there is no such charge as "abandoning the matrimonial home" in Ontario.
Myth 10: Lawyers Make Things Worse
There is a new type of family law lawyers who really want to help you get a resolution of your family law issues in an cost-effective, timely, respectful, confidential manner so you can get on with your life. These lawyers are called Collaborative Practice lawyers and they help minimize the pain of your divorce. They don't make things worse. They make them better.