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Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law

Thornton Law, PLLC Feb. 23, 2022

Child with head in hands sitting between two adultsThere is plenty of information about family law and divorce on the Internet. However, not all information on the Internet is accurate, current, and complete. That is why many people cannot draw the line between fact and fiction.

When seeking a divorce or handling other family law matters, you need to rely on factual information to make informed decisions about your particular case. As a family law attorney at Thornton Law, PLLC, I am prepared to guide you through every step of your case and keep you from making irreversible and costly mistakes. I provide legal guidance to clients in Plano, Texas, and other parts of the state, including Dallas, Denton, and McKinney.

What Are the Common Misconceptions About Family Law and Divorce?

Divorce and other family law matters can be confusing processes that involve many legal intricacies. The abundance of misinformation on the Internet makes divorce, alimony, division of assets, child custody, child support, and other family law matters even more complicated. The following are some of the most common misconceptions about family law and divorce that should be debunked once and for all.

1. A Parent Can Withhold Visitation if the Other Parent Fails to Pay Child Support

Once a child custody order is established, both parents must follow the terms of the order. However, many parents in Texas mistakenly believe that they have a right to withhold visitation to punish the other parent for failing or refusing to pay child support. However, child support and child custody are two separate matters.

Withholding visitation for any reason could result in harsh penalties. If the other parent does not pay child support, the right option would be to request court enforcement of the support order.

2. A Spouse in Texas Cannot Initiate the Divorce Process if the Other Spouse Does Not Want a Divorce

Fortunately, gone are the days when people were forced to remain married simply because their spouse did not agree to a divorce. Texas recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. It means that a spouse in Texas can initiate the divorce proceedings even if their spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers.

3. If a Divorce Involves Adultery, the Non-Cheating Spouse Will Get Everything

Not true. It is a common misconception about divorce that the spouse who commits adultery during the marriage will lose everything when a divorce is filed. Texas law requires the spouses’ community property to be divided in a just and right manner.

It means that the court will consider several factors, including adultery, to split property community property in a manner it deems fair and reasonable. While adultery is one of the factors that can impact the division of property, it is unlikely that the spouse who committed adultery will lose everything.

4. Mothers Are Given Preference in Child Custody Matters

Many people believe that the mother is always given primary custody of children in child custody cases. However, that is not true. Courts must consider the child’s best interests when awarding custody. Texas courts consider that it would be beneficial for children to have continuing contact with both parents.

5. You Can Only Get Divorced in Texas if You Got Married in Texas

No, you do not necessarily need to get a divorce in Texas if you were married in Texas as long as you meet residency requirements in another state. The same is true if you, for example, got married in California but want to file for divorce in Texas. In Texas, residency requirements for divorce include living in the state for six months or longer before filing the divorce petition.

6. Community Property in Texas is Split 50/50

Not necessarily. Texas law requires a divorcing couple’s community property to be split, in a just and right manner. While a 50/50 split may be deemed “just and right” in some cases, the community property may be divided differently based on many factors.

7. Children Can Choose Who to Live with

In Texas, it is in the court’s discretion to determine what is in the child’s best interests when deciding who the child should live with after a divorce is final. However, the court may consider the child’s wishes if the child is mature enough to express a preference.

Under Texas law, a child is considered mature enough if the child has reached the age of 12. If a child aged 12 or older expresses a preference to live with one parent, the court may consider the child’s opinion as one of the factors.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

If you are considering a divorce or need help addressing another family law matter, I can provide you with accurate and factual information and give you the legal advice you need to make informed decisions during the process. At Thornton Law, PLLC, I can explain applicable laws and help you understand your options at every step of the way. Schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Plano, Texas, to get the facts straight from a family law attorney. I also proudly serve clients in Dallas, Denton, and McKinney, Texas.