Couples considering divorce often have a fairly inaccurate picture of what the process is like. Knowledge is power: It is important that you start the divorce process with an accurate understanding of the basic principles. While each case brings with it different circumstances, and judges may wield varying approaches, the underlying concepts remain broadly the same. Do not fall for these three myths.
1. Fault will affect property division
Tennessee has both no-fault and fault options for divorce. However, fault by either party will usually not affect property division. Factors that do influence division include the respective contributions of both spouses to the family finances and well-being, the marital standard of living and the interests of the minor children. Even if one spouse committed a fault such as adultery, this would not mean he or she gets a lesser share. The one type of fault Tennessee judges may consider is financial fault such as wasting or hiding assets.
2. Child support can be negotiated
While parents paying child support may sometimes think of the payment as going to their ex-spouse, in reality the law mandates support solely for the benefit of the children. For this reason, parents may not make their own arrangements about child support amounts. A parent with primary custody may also not give up the right to receive child support, as it is not the parent’s right to give up. Courts set child support using the Child Support Guidelines, which include calculations based on factors such as the parents’ respective incomes as well as each parent’s responsibilities and time with the children.
3. Hiding your assets will keep them out of distribution
Some about-to-be-divorced spouses try to protect their assets by hiding them so as to avoid including them in the list of marital property subject to division. Even if only one name is on the asset, this does not mean this asset belongs to that person separately. Courts consider several factors in determining which property is marital. Hiding assets can result in problems down the line.
If you are considering divorce, consulting an experienced family law attorney can help you understand what to expect. Your lawyer can advise you as to the best approach to protect your interests.