3 Common Family Law and Divorce Myths

Written By Allison R. McAlpine

We have compiled a list of 3 commonly held myths about Family Law and Divorce.

Myth 1: “If my spouse and I have 50/50 physical custody of our children then there is no child support paid.”    If parents have 50/50 shared physical custody of the children child support may still be payable by the higher income earning parent. Typically, this is based on a “set-off approach” whereby the higher earning parent pays the difference between the full child support amounts for each parent based on their incomes. For example, if the full child support amount for Parent 1 is $500.00 and the full child support amount for Parent 2 is $200.00 then the set-off approach for a 50/50 equal sharing of the children would mean that Parent 1 is paying Parent 2 $300.00 per month ($500 less $200). However, please note that a Judge has discretion to order a child support amount from $0 to the full Guideline amount in shared physical custody situations – the set-off approach, while routinely used, is not the default.

Myth 2: “If I have sole custody then I get decision-making authority over when the other parent has the children.”     Custody refers to the parent who has decision-making authority over only a few issues relating to the children such as medical, religious upbringing, and educational decisions. Custody has nothing to do with the time each parent has with the child and does not grant one parent decision-making authority over when the other parent gets to have parenting time with the children.

Myth 3: “If we were married, then the other spouse is equally responsible for my debts.”  A spouse is only equally responsible for a debt if that spouse is equally liable for the debt to the creditor (e.g., joint debts to the bank or credit card company). One spouse is not legally responsible to the other spouse’s sole debts.   However, each spouse’s debt (whether sole or joint) does get factored into the ultimate equalization payment and can affect the equalization payment which one spouse owes to the other.

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