When you contemplate divorce, you will naturally recall the divorce experiences shared by your friends and relatives. As a result, you might misinterpret individual outcomes or opinions as facts about divorce in Alberta when they are actually myths. The best Edmonton divorce lawyers are often able to protect people’s rights and negotiate reasonable resolutions when people end a marriage or common-law partnership. Before making assumptions about your rights, we want to debunk common divorce myths.
Myth 1. Paying child support means you automatically get parenting time.
Child support and parenting time represent two separate issues that must be worked out in accordance with the law. The courts make child support decisions based on the financial circumstances of the parents. On the other hand, the best interests of the child guide parenting time decisions.
Multiple variables go into determining what is best for a child. Although the law emphasizes that children normally benefit from time with both parents, circumstances could prevent you from having time with your child. Threats to child safety or a parent’s inability to provide adequate housing are examples of issues that could cause a court to deny parenting time.
Myth 2. My spouse’s infidelity gives me an advantage in divorce court.
You may want the legal system to sympathize with you when your spouse has an intimate relationship outside of marriage. However, this behaviour has no bearing on the legal rights of either person. Neither the federal Divorce Act nor Alberta’s Family Law Act reduces rights to property or parenting time on the basis of infidelity.
Myth 3. I can’t get a divorce unless my spouse agrees to do it.
Not true. One spouse may initiate the divorce even when the other spouse disagrees with the action. An Edmonton divorce lawyer could help you plan your next steps when you want to end your marriage, including moving out of the marital home. With legal support, you should be able to successfully complete court applications and overcome the difficulties that can arise when the other person will not cooperate with the process.
Myth 4. You won’t have to pay spousal support if your spouse has a job.
Although you may think that the law only authorizes spousal support for spouses who did not work outside the home, this is not entirely true. In the eyes of the law, a court could order spousal support due to a large difference in income between spouses.
According to federal and provincial law, the purpose of spousal support is to reduce the financial hardship that can arise when a low-earning spouse leaves a marriage. A judge will consider first whether spousal support is appropriate and then weigh it against factors, like whether the recipient lives with someone else but remains responsible for paying household bills.
You should not make assumptions about either paying or receiving spousal support. This issue is often highly contested, which makes legal representation important should the subject arise during your divorce in Alberta.
Myth 5. Property you owned prior to marriage will stay yours after the divorce.
Believing in this divorce myth could result in an unpleasant surprise when you go to divide property. Your exclusive right to keep a property will depend on multiple issues. Although buying it prior to marriage could prove that it is nonmarital property, the picture becomes unclear under many circumstances. For example, if you paid the mortgage on your home out of a joint account that your spouse put money into, then your spouse arguably owns a portion of the value.
Myth 6. Moving out of my house means I’ll lose it in the divorce.
Your property rights do not cease because you move out of the marital home, especially if your name is on the title. Even in the absence of being on the title, family law could still grant you rights to the home that must be settled to complete a divorce. This is important to keep in mind if you feel unsafe in the home and need to get out. Leaving will not cause a forfeiture of property rights. Those rights are decided by title documentation, family law, and who makes payments on the property. However, you may want legal advice when planning your exit so that you do not unnecessarily complicate your case.
Myth 7. Mothers have the advantage in child custody decisions.
Fathers often worry that the legal system views them as less than mothers. This is one of the most persistent Alberta divorce myths, but parental gender is NOT a deciding factor for parenting time or decision-making responsibilities. Both parents have an equal right to see and care for their children in the absence of issues, such as a history of family violence or the inability to maintain a child’s physical, emotional, and psychological safety.
Courts consider only the best interests of the child when making custody orders. A parent’s relationship with the child and willingness to fulfill a child’s needs are the most significant factors. Should you feel that your divorce is threatening your time with your child, you should consult an Edmonton child custody lawyer right away. You do not have to accept the loss of a parent/child relationship unless something specific disqualifies you.
Myth 8. Failing to pay child support means you lose your parenting time.
Falling behind on child support payments is a financial issue separate from your right to care for your child and make parental decisions. Although being in arrears for unpaid child support is a serious issue, it does not present a legal reason for the co-parent to deny you time with your child.
Myth 9. Common-law partners don’t need to negotiate the division of property.
Yes, they do. In legal terms, common-law partners are known as adult interdependent partners. As of Jan. 1, 2020, Alberta’s Family Law Property Act established that adult interdependent partners must divide their property according to rules similar to a divorce for formally married people. If you are uncertain whether your relationship meets the definition of an adult interdependent relationship, you should consult a divorce lawyer.
Myth 10. Retirement accounts and pensions are not subject to property division.
Your retirement savings accounts, including those sponsored by an employer or your self-employed savings, and pensions ARE subject to property division during a divorce.
Myth 11. You don’t have to pay child support for stepchildren.
There are circumstances when the law obligates people to pay child support for an ex-partner’s children from another relationship. Actions such as formally adopting a stepchild, naming the child in your estate plan, or having the child as a beneficiary of your health insurance plan could create liability for stepchild support after your marriage ends.
Myth 12. You get half the marital assets in a divorce.
Alberta family law calls for an equitable division of marital assets and property. Although this often turns out as a 50/50 split or very close to it, the equitable standard really means that division should be fair. Some splitting couples agree to an unbalanced division in recognition of what each person honestly deserves. However, disagreements about what is equitable are common and can lead to disputes that must be resolved through mediation or litigation.
Make Decisions Based on Facts Not Myths
Unique factors and finances define every marital relationship. The steps for how to get a divorce in Alberta might be slightly different for one person compared to another. You might arrange an amicable split with minimal legal support or require a strong litigator to defend your rights to parenting time, financial support, or property.
At Kolinsky Law, we have experience with all aspects of divorce and separation in Edmonton, Alberta. We strive to provide the results that you desire in an efficient manner that is appropriate for your family situation. Let us help you resolve your divorce or child custody issues. Call (780) 757-6400 or email our office today.