Debunking myths about divorce in New York

Until you've gone through a divorce, you never really know what to expect. Everyone's experience is different. If you're contemplating divorce here in New York, you're likely to hear a lot of things that simply aren't true.

You should base your decision regarding whether or not to proceed on your own needs and get your legal guidance from an experienced New York family law attorney -- not from family, friends and co-workers, no matter how well-meaning they may be.

Many of the myths surrounding divorce that frighten people the most involve child custody, visitation and support. People's unwarranted fear of losing the right to co-parent their children can keep them in unhappy marriages. Other misconceptions leave people unpleasantly surprised when they learn the way that New York law actually works. Let's look at some common misconceptions and the facts.

-- Mothers always get custody of the children. Fact: That was largely true decades ago, however, courts now base custody decisions on what's in the best interests of the children. Shared or joint custody of children is far more common today.

-- Children get to choose which parent they live with. Fact: If the issue of custody goes before a judge and a child is old enough to express his or her wishes, the judge may consider what the child has to say. However, again, it's the child's best interests that are the overriding factor in the decision.

-- Non-custodial parents can avoid paying child support. Fact: Under New York law, non-custodial parents of minor children must pay child support. If they fail to pay the support that's ordered, the other parent as well as the state can take legal steps to get the payments.

-- If a parent fails to pay child support, he or she can be denied visitation. Fact: While parents who don't comply with their child support obligations can face sanctions, those don't include denying them time with their children. Custody and visitation aren't dependent on whether or not parents meet their child support obligations.

As we noted, your best source of information regarding the divorce process and any concerns you may have about it is an experienced New York family law attorney. He or she can address any questions or worries you have so that you better know what to expect and how you can work towards what you want in the divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "12 Top Divorce Myths," Daniel Clement, May 24, 2016

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