Things about divorce that the Internet gets wrong
I am Pam Masters and I am a collaborative family lawyer, which is to say that I am a settlement specialist and I guide couples and families on the difficult journey of divorce without court involvement. I do this is ways that protects children, preserves financial assets and creates healthy co-parenting relationships
Today I am going to talk about the most common things that my clients learn from the internet that are just plain wrong.
And I am talking about this today because so many of these things cause unnecessary anxiety and worry.
- If I move out of the house I have abandoned my interest in the house. Nothing could be further from the truth. When and how the house was purchased is the primary factor in determining whether the house is a marital asset. If your living situation has become too toxic or stressful, you may remove yourself from the home and it will not affect how the home is distributed in the divorce.
- Related to this first one is the idea that if the house is titled only in one spouse’s name, the other spouse has no right to house. Again, how the home is titled is not the primary factor in determining either whether it is a marital asset or how it will be distributed.
- That one parent or the other will have “custody” of children. Florida does not recognize “custody” of children. In Florida, there is parental responsibility, which is about making decision about the children and timesharing, which is where the children will be spending time. Neither parent will have “sole custody” of children. One parent may have more time with the children, or one parent may have ultimate decision making authority over certain areas of the child’s life such as education or medical or religious decisions
- That if the parents’ income is equal and timesharing is equal, neither parent will owe child support to the other and related to this, that online child support calculators are accurate. Child support is based upon first, what the legislature has determined is the cost of raising a child, given the combined incomes of the parents. That is the starting point—the number that the legislature deems appropriate. Then other things besides the percentage of income and overnights is factored in. Such as the cost of each parents’ health insurance, the cost of day care, the cost of health insurance for the child and who is paying it.
- That there is a formula to calculate alimony. There is no formula used in Florida. For several years, the legislature attempted to pass a formula but the law never was signed. In Florida, alimony is based on the recipient’s need and the payor’s ability to pay.