Clearing up myths about divorce

As you near the end of your marriage, you may be facing some confusion and uncertainty. This is understandable if you have never gone through this process before. It may also mean that, like many entering this difficult phase of life, you have misconceptions about some critical elements of divorce.

Clearing up those fallacies is important because if you make decisions based on faulty information, you are likely to end up with a settlement that does not provide stability and security for your future. The safest course of action is to meet with an attorney to obtain the answers to your questions; however, the following is an overview of some of the most commonly misunderstood elements of divorce.

Debt and assets

Because California is a community property state, almost everything you acquire from the day of your wedding belongs to both you and your spouse. If you gain an inheritance, for example, you may be able to keep that as long as you don't mingle it with your joint affairs. However, during your divorce proceedings, the court will evenly divide your community property. This includes money you may have stashed in a separate account in your name only.

The same is true for your debts. In a community property state, charges or lines of credit either you or your spouse made during your marriage are divided evenly as if they were property, including debt that one of you accumulated on an individual credit card.

Getting what you deserve

You may have the mistaken belief that your spouse's unfaithfulness will earn you a larger portion during property division. However, like most states, California is a no-fault state. This means that divorce settlements have the purpose of balancing the wealth a couple has, not of punishing a spouse who has misbehaved. Unless your spouse spent substantial sums of money on a secret love – money that was part of the marital estate – you can expect property division to be equal despite the affair.

Additionally, you may have sacrificed your career to devote your life to keeping house and raising kids. It may seem like that fact would result in a lifetime of spousal support, but not necessarily. The goal of alimony is to provide you with financial support until you can add to your employable skills and find work. Depending on your age and experience, your attorney may be able to negotiate a generous arrangement or fight to get you a settlement that will allow you an acceptable standard of living.

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