Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law provides collaborative divorce solutions to clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

3 Common Misconceptions About Divorce


One of the most common images of divorce is two people in a courtroom in front of a judge arguing over who is the worse person. However, that image is most commonly not accurate. Certainly, there are cases so difficult and spouses who are so spiteful that they end up in court. However, most divorces do not end up being that high conflict, and the process for negotiating a divorce settlement can take many forms. Divorce is a process about which there are a lot of common misconceptions.  Here are three of the most common misconceptions.

  1. Your Divorce Will Have to Go to Court

First, you don’t have to end up in court.  Most divorceing couples can reach an agreement on property division, child custody and support, alimony, and other issues, with the right assistance.   You and your spouse may be able to work out a full agreement together, often with the assistance of counsel, and  have it written up by the attorneys, and then submitted to a judge for final approval. There can also be sessions with a mediator for issues that you and your spouse can’t settle on your own.

You and your spouse should have separate attorneys, even if your break up is friendly, because you could each have your own misconceptions about what state law requires, and dividing property, and questions of support can be complicated. Your attorneys can help you work through those questions, and ensure that you avoid mistakes that could cost you money later.

  1. Child Custody Always Goes to the mother

Child custody doesn’t always go to the mother. Many, many people still don’t believe a father can get custody or that custody can be split any way other than full custody for one parent and visitation for the other. Fathers can get full custody.  The most common form of custody is joint custody because it allows both parents to be an important part of raising their children.

  1. Child and Spousal Support is Awarded Only to the Wife

Be aware that for both child support and spousal support, it is possible that the ex-wife will have to pay support to the ex-husband. We hear a lot about “deadbeat dads,” and moms trying to get support, but not enough talk about how sometimes the mom must pay support to the dad.  Factors such as  your employment status, earnings, remarriage or cohabiting with a new significant other, and child custody will determine whether and which ex-spouse pays support– not your gender.

  1. Supported Spouses Don’t Have to Get a Job

Divorce may change what is expected of each of your.  In California, a spouse must go to work after the divorce, even if they are getting alimony and/or child support. For those who have been stay-at-home spouses and who don’t have a recent work history, there are pathways for returning to the workforce by way of education and job training.  Also, spousal support is not life-long income stream in most cases. In the majority of divorces, spousal support ends at some point, although there are exceptions in cases with extremely large income disparities, or other special circumstances. Once spousal support ends, you still need income, so returning to the workforce is important.

It is vital that both you and your spouse talk with an attorney about divorce law as soon as you start considering a divorce, or have been told that you spouse is considering divorce,to ensure that that you have accurate information.  You never want to go into a legal process thinking it will go one way, only to find out that the reality is very different. You should speak with an attorney about your beliefs regarding what will happen to find out if that’s actually the case.  It’s better to get the facts before you make a final decision about filing for divorce.