What are the common assumptions people make about the court process?

Friends, family and co-workers freely give advice when they hear a person they care about is going through a divorce or custody case.  Their advice is usually based upon their own experiences or opinions of what they think is the correct outcome or through stories they hear from their own friends, family and co-workers.  The information others give to someone going through a divorce or custody case is not always accurate.  It is often just flat out wrong and legally harmful.  While having others to rely upon is very helpful, the incorrect information and “legal advice” can really hurt a case.

These are the top three assumptions I hear from clients:

  1. I do not need a lawyer because my divorce is simple.

Divorce is rarely simple.  Issues always surface with how and when a couple is going to divide personal property.  Another complication is making sure both parties have fully and completely disclosed debts and assets.  The paperwork to complete a divorce is very lengthy.  It requires a great deal of detail and information even if the couple mutually agrees to a divorce.  There are many, many moving pieces to a divorce that need to be done correctly and in a timely manner so both parties can move forward.

  1. Moms always get the kids.

Minnesota law changed on August 1, 2015, stating there is a rebuttal presumption that kids should live with both parents.   Domestic abuse may affect physical custody.  This does not make addressing where the kids live any easier.  Parents need to discuss a parenting time schedule so both parents have quality time with their kids.  Dads are just as legally important as moms, which can make figuring out where kids live more complicated.

  1. I am solely responsible for my spouse’s debts because only my name is on the debt.

If a debt was obtained during a marriage, both parties are legally responsible for the debt.  The name on the debt is not important.  Dividing debt that is in both spouses’ names can get complicated.  Speaking with an attorney about how to address dividing debts is a wise financial decision.

Jessica Sterle

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