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Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law

William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law March 22, 2023

Family Figure and Gavel on TableThe legal process of divorce can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you don’t understand the laws surrounding it. To make matters worse, there are a lot of myths out there that can lead to incorrect assumptions about the process.  

Consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that you have accurate information to move forward with your case. William E. Morgan offers reliable legal advice and guidance to people dealing with various family law matters in Pacific County, Montesano, Washington, and other parts of Grays Harbor County, including Hoquiam and Aberdeen.  

Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law

Remember: you shouldn’t believe everything you read online. By now, you may think that you have a pretty good understanding of the divorce process and family law in general. However, your beliefs may be based on some of the misconceptions and myths floating around the Internet.  

Here, we will debunk some common misconceptions about divorce and family law so that you can better understand your rights and obligations. 

“I can withhold visitation if the other parent stops paying child support.” 

This is not true. Under no circumstances should visitation be withheld because of unpaid child support. It is illegal to deny visitation for this reason. If a parent fails to pay child support, they can still have visitation privileges with their children as long as they comply with any court orders or parenting plans in place. That being said, if a parent poses a risk of harm to the child(ren), then withholding visitation may be necessary in certain cases. Consult with a family law attorney to determine what steps you should take if the other parent has stopped paying child support.  

“I cannot get a divorce if my spouse won't sign divorce papers.” 

Although having both parties sign the divorce papers is ideal, it is not necessarily required under most state laws, including Washington. A spouse who refuses or ignores the divorce paperwork does not have the power to prevent you from getting a divorce. In these situations, an attorney can guide you through the steps needed to move forward with an uncontested or contested divorce without your spouse’s signature on the documents.  

“The mother is always awarded primary custody of the children.” 

In today’s society, fathers are just as likely as mothers to win primary custody in court proceedings when determining who will get custody of their children after separation or divorce. The courts prioritize what is in “the best interests of the child” when making decisions about custody arrangements—not gender bias or outdated stereotypes about motherhood versus fatherhood.  

“Our assets will be split 50/50.” 

In some states, that may indeed be how assets are divided after the dissolution of the marriage. However, in most states, including Washington, this decision will depend on several different factors such as the length of the marriage and other contributing elements to ensure that the division is fair and equitable. It's best practice to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law prior to filing for any type of asset division agreement since each situation is unique. You want to make sure that you get a fair share of the assets.  

“You must file for divorce in the state where you got married.” 

This isn’t always true—in fact, it depends on where you currently live and other factors like residency requirements and length of residence in each state/jurisdiction. Generally speaking, however, if at least one of you has lived in that state for at least six months (or however long your state’s residency requirement may be), then you are typically eligible to file there regardless of where you got married originally.  

It's important to speak with an attorney familiar with family law before filing for divorce so that they can help determine which jurisdiction is best for your situation based on your individual circumstances and needs.   

“Alimony is a part of any divorce.” 

Not true. Regardless of gender and the length of the marriage, alimony in Washington is always based on need. Thus, in order to get alimony, the requesting party must prove two things: (1) he or she needs financial support and (2) the other spouse is able to provide financial support.  

Let William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law Help  

Do the fact-checking with an experienced family law attorney before moving forward with your case. Schedule a free consultation with William E. Morgan today to discuss your unique situation and explore your legal options when going through a divorce or dealing with any other family law matter.