As you navigate the twists and turns of divorce, everyone, it seems, has advice they feel the need to share with you. Unfortunately, many of these divorce “tips” often turn out to be nothing more than tricks. Are you in possession of bad divorce advice? Read on for five pieces of the worst divorce guidance women receive. (Men don’t feel left out! We have the worst divorce advice for men just for you.)
First, a note about who is giving out this bad advice. Unfortunately, it’s usually well-meaning people — friends, family, coworkers — who just want to help. For example, just because someone’s Aunt Janet was granted permanent lifetime alimony in 1984 in Wisconsin, doesn’t mean you will in 2017 in New Jersey. Divorce laws and trends change, and vary from state to state. Rulings are subject to the particulars of each case, the skills of the attorneys, and the opinions of the judges. Unless your sister or next door neighbor is a family law attorney practicing in New Jersey, don’t wager that whatever advice you’re receiving from those close to you is correct advice, however well-meaning.
What unhelpful information should you watch out for?
Bad Advice: You’re the mom, of course you’ll get full child custody! Who hasn’t heard this particular piece of bad advice before? Don’t fall for it: the days when mothers automatically got full custody was over decades ago. Judges today want children to have equal access to both parents. Unless there’s a legitimate safety risk, your husband is likely to get shared custody if he wants it.
Bad Advice: My mom lived on child support, you’ll be fine! Run, don’t walk, if this bit of advice comes your way. Child support is the right of the child, not the parent. It’s intended to provide for kids’ necessities: rent, food, clothing, babysitting. It is not meant to subsidize a parent’s lifestyle. It’s also important to know that child support is modifiable. And in these times of uncertain employment, the parent who receives child support should never depend solely upon it.
Bad Advice: Don’t worry, you’ll get lifetime alimony! The Alimony Reform Act of 2014 essentially eradicated lifetime support. Even if you were a stay-at-home mom, if you were married less than 20 years, the amount of alimony you receive will be restricted to the duration of your marriage. Other factors come into play as well: a change in the payor’s income; the age of the payee; and the court’s expectation that the payee undergo re-training to re-enter the job market. Bottom line: the years of resting on your alimony laurels are history.
Bad Advice: The judge will see right through him! Some women go to court with the bad advice that judges are benevolent daddy figures who always take a woman’s side. Wrong! Judges are impartial and they may think better of your spouse than you do! Litigating often gives people less control than settling outside the courthouse. The only thing you’re certain to get in family court is answers – not your friends’ and family’s idea of justice.
Bad Advice: If your husband was guilty of some bad behavior, your friends may encourage you to seek revenge by gouging him financially. But seeking revenge won’t fix the past and it certainly won’t pave the way for an amicable co-parenting relationship. And remember: excessive legal fees will eat up your children’s college funds and inheritance.
Everyone wants to seek comfort during the maelstrom of divorce. But heeding woefully misguided advice from non-legal professionals will just make your divorce worse. Need clear guidance? Our experienced family law attorneys can help. Please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.