I’ve placed the myth in italics and the reality follows.
1. I am automatically divorced 6 months after I file for divorce. No.
2. I am legally separated once I file for divorce. No. Your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation only lists the date you contend is your date of separation from your spouse.
3. If she/he withholds child support, I can retaliate by withholding visitation for him/her with our children. NO! Child support and visitation are not linked. Even deadbeat dads and deadbeat moms get to visit their children. However, the failure to financially support a minor child may be one of the factors a family court considers to decide primary custody of that child.
4. If he/she marries a high earner, my child support payments will go down. NO. Your ex’s new spouse, even if they are a billionaire, has no legal duty to financially support your children. This means your ex spouse could marry a billionaire who flies her/him and your kids around on a private jet and they all live in a large and magnificent estate with servants, and a private chef, etc., and you are still legally required to pay child support.
5. If I buy a house with a fat mortgage, I can’t afford child support, so it will go down. NO. In fact, under the California child support guideline, your child support will probably increase because that fat mortgage gives you a bigger tax deduction and therefore you have more net money available for child support.
6. If my name is not on the credit card, I don’t owe the debt incurred during the marriage. Wrong. However, there may be some credit card debts incurred by your spouse that a family court will confirm to them. It depends on the facts.
7. I can be reimbursed for paying his/her premarital debts. NO. That was a good deed and no good deed goes unpunished.
8. The Court can make the other parent chip in for the kids’ college. NO. In California, there is no legal requirement that a parent pay for the college education of their child.
9. If I quit my job, I won’t have to pay support. Are you kidding me? Who told you that?
10. If we’re married more than 10 years, then he/she has to pay for me to get a college education. NO, that is what your spousal support can be used for.
11. Children can make custody decisions at age 12. Not very often, if at all. However, there has been a major shift in California law regarding the custody of minor children age 14 and older. Children 14 years and older now have the right to express their preference with respect custody to the family court. How this will manifest itself is still being worked out by the family courts in California. It is probably unlikely that we will see children on the witness stand in custody cases.
12. If we have equal custody, there won’t be any child support. Wrong. Child support in California is determined by a statewide uniform guideline and the timeshare parties have with their children is just one of the factors that is considered in determining child support.
13. I know we’ve been married for 15 years, but our child who was born 15 years ago, isn’t mine. I want a paternity test. You’re kidding me, right? Sorry, too late to ask.
14. If the family court orders me to pay community debts, I can always discharge them in bankruptcy. Probably not since the bankruptcy laws changed a few years ago.