Did you just turn 40 and after 10 years of difficulty in your marriage, you're gearing up for your first divorce? Because most Tennessee residents have a close friend or relative who has gone through a divorce before, it can be easy to feel like you know what divorce is all about. However, it's important to remember that just because you're familiar with divorce - either firsthand or secondhand - it does not mean that you know all the ins and outs.
There are a lot of misconceptions about divorce proceedings floating around, and part of a divorce attorney's job is to dispel those misconceptions because they can create problems for splitting spouses. Let's take a look at three of those misconceptions now:
1. This divorce will be just like my sister's:
As every experienced divorce lawyer knows, no two divorces are the same, and each divorce proceeding needs to be evaluated individually to determine the best way to navigate it.
For example, your divorce might involve children, or a large retirement savings plan, but your sister might not have had children and might not have had any savings to speak of. Your divorce will certainly be a lot more complicated than your sister's was, in this case.
Also, the spouses and the relationship will be different. Perhaps the spouses are friendly with each other and can negotiate a settlement easily, or maybe they can't agree on anything. There are too many variables that need to be considered, so it's best to keep an open mind and never expect that your current divorce will be just like a previous one.
2. Divorce figures are declining - I must be a failure if I need a divorce:
According to recent studies, the national divorce rate in the United States has declined since 1980 when the numbers reached their peak of nearly 23 for every thousand women 15 years of age and up. Statistics show that the divorce rate in 2015 had fallen to 16.9 for every 1,000 women of the same age range.
While it's true that national divorce rates have been gradually declining, it's also true that fewer people are getting married, so these numbers don't necessarily mean that a couple that gets married today has a decreased chance of getting a divorce. If you're going through a divorce, it's important that you remember how common these proceedings are, that you are not alone and you are definitely not a failure.
3. My kids can choose who will have custody:
Tennessee parents sometimes believe that their children will have the final say in which parent will get custody of them. This is a frightening thought. What if one parent is slack with the rules, offers no discipline and never spent time developing a strong bond with the children? However, because he or she is the "fun" parent, the children choose to live with him or her?
Rest assured that your children will not have the final say. Under Tennessee law, the wishes of children will be considered if the child is mature enough, but they will not necessarily be followed when making a child custody determination.
Courts will consider numerous other factors in addition to the child's wishes. Judges also know that children do not always know what's best for them. Above all else, the courts will always strive to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child's physical, social and psychological health and well-being.
Getting help with your divorce proceedings
Forty-something spouses going through their first divorce who seek help from a divorce attorney can receive sound advice and counseling regarding the unique facts that pertain to their marriage and family. A divorce attorney can review your situation, educate you on your legal rights and options and provide a suitable strategy to bring your marriage to a close as quickly, stress-free and cost-effectively as possible.