Three Major Misconceptions About Divorce Law
Misconception #1: The Court Will Punish Your Spouse’s Behavior.
Many people expect that the court will find some way to punish the behavior of the spouse who committed adultery, or the spouse who was cold and cruel.
However, this does not happen in Arizona. In most states, the courts view divorce primarily as an economic proposition.
A court may penalize a violent or abusive spouse in the financial settlement. And abusive spouses are less likely to be awarded custody.
But any betrayals your spouse commits tend to have only a minor impact, if any, on the property settlement or alimony amount.
Misconception #2: You Will Have Your Day In Court.
Based on what you have seen on television and in the movies, you might imagine that you will have a day of drama in court, to tell the judge all about how mean and nasty your spouse is or was.
Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, you would be mistaken.
In most states, including Arizona, you and your spouse (and your respective lawyers, mediators, accountants and other professionals, if any) work out the financial details yourselves.
The judge then simply reviews and signs your agreement. In many states, the judge will be reviewing only to check that the agreement is not terribly one-sided, that the parenting plan for the children is reasonable, and that child support is adequately provided.
That is, the judge won’t involve himself or herself in the emotional part of your marriage at all, let alone come to conclusions about who betrayed whom, who is responsible for the divorce, and who is the worse spouse or parent.
Misconception #3: The Legal System Is Interested In “Justice.”
The laws of most states direct the courts to be concerned only about:
The welfare of any children.
The living standards of any children.
The living standard of the spouse who has not worked outside the home (if one spouse was a homemaker).
In many states, the concern is that each spouse, if not already working outside the home, becomes able support himself or herself as soon as possible.
The laws are not concerned about punishing wrongdoing spouses – unless the spouse actually commits a crime in the course of the marriage.
So be prepared to work out your emotional issues with your therapist, your friends, or your family – but not with a judge in court.