If you’re like most people, you probably have certain ideas–based on things you’ve seen and heard–about how the judicial system works in divorce cases. Unfortunately, though, a lot of the information you have is probably incorrect.
Following is a list of some of the most common misconceptions couples have about divorce law and what to expect from the marital dissolution process:
1. Only one parent has rights to full custody of the children.
In the state of Texas, courts talk about “conservatorship” and “access,” as opposed to “custody.” “Conservatorship” refers to the set of rights and duties that accompany being a parent. “Access” refers to the block of time when the non-custodian parent is able to visit with the children apart from the other parent.
Courts try to divide conservatorship between both parents wherever possible. However, one parent may be appointed the primary managing conservator who is in charge of making important life decisions for the children.
2. If one spouse doesn’t pay child support, then the other can block access to the children.
A parent cannot disregard court orders for visitation even if the other parent is delinquent on child support payments. Law is the law and you must follow it to the letter.
3. If a spouse leaves a household and family because of domestic violence, then that action constitutes abandonment.
This is false. Legally speaking, abandonment is defined as a failure to support children for six months or more OR living apart from the family unit for two years or more.
4. A husband and wife who have not lived together for months or years are legally separated.
No legal separation exists in Texas. If you don’t have the divorce decree, then you are still considered to be married no matter how long you have lived apart from your spouse.
5. A person who has cheated on his or her spouse automatically loses rights to all property in the marital estate.
While infidelity is grounds for divorce in Texas, it does not usually result in a division of assets that favors the faithful spouse. The only time when infidelity may impact property issues is in cases where the cheating spouse exposes the children to highly inappropriate situations–for example, sexual activity or anything else that compromises their health, safety or welfare.
These misconceptions about divorce are just a few of the many that exist. That’s why it’s important to seek legal assistance when you decide that ending your marriage is the right step for you. At the Barrera Law Firm, our attorneys are divorce law experts who can help you deal with the many questions and challenges you will inevitably have throughout the dissolution process. Contact us today!