- Myth: Behaviour of the other person matters in a divorce hearing as to whether your divorce is granted.
Response: No. Since the June 1, 1986 amendments to the Divorce Act, the sole criterion for divorce is “marriage breakdown.” Divorces are now described as “no fault” in Canada.
- Myth: If I do not consult a lawyer and do not respond to legal papers for long enough, the problems will go away.
Response: False. I often use the analogy that legal issues are like your car. When your change oil light comes on, you can choose to immediately take your car to the shop to get an oil change. Better yet, you may wish to schedule regular maintenance. If you do so, the costs are usually less and the issues are easier to manage. If you disregard your car’s oil change light for too long (I may have some experience in this department), it will likely cause issues with the transmission and you will end up costing yourself far more time and money. Similarly, legal issues (especially family law issues), never go away. If you owe child support today, you will end up owing more later.
- Myth: If I embarrass my (soon to be) former spouse, I can get more out of the divorce.
Response: False. Remember my post here on a case in Ontario, where the judge blasted a couple for spending $500,000 combined fighting with each other about custody issues. Think about that for a moment. $500,000! These were not extremely wealthy people. I believe one was a police officer. This kind of fighting and embarrassment did no one any good.
- Myth: I have to go to Court to get what I want.
Response: False. There are many options available to divorcing couples that can be more cost-efficient, rewarding and effective than court. You may choose to participate in mediation. I have seen this work extremely well and both parties walked away with their sanity and their relationships with their children were strengthened. You may choose to work with collaborative law lawyers, who can bring both parties to the table to ensure that each person’s interests are discussed and solutions are reached that reflect what each person wants out of the divorce.
- Myth: Whether you pay child support depends on whether you get access to a child (for the payor) and whether you grant access to the other parent depends on whether they are paying child support.
Response: False. For the most part, child support and custody and access have nothing to do with each other under the Divorce Act, the provincial legislation and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The exception to this rule is that the amount of child support payable can change depending on whether the access parent has access to a child over 40% of the time over a year pursuant to section 9 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Conversely, whether someone pays child support or not should not determine whether they are granted access to their children. I know it’s hard to grant access to someone who doesn’t want to be responsible for his/her child, but you are only hurting the child when you deny access for this reason!