Possibly no other subject engenders more myths or half-truths than divorce. After all, the stakes are high. You could lose your house, your children, a lot of money for child support or alimony, retirement savings, a business, a boat or a large inheritance.
Once you make the announcement, friends and family line up to give you advice. They know a friend who has a cousin whose brother got burned in his high-asset divorce. There are a mountain of myths to go around, so here are some myths to consider before you sabotage your divorce.
Myth #1: The person whose name is on the house, keeps the house
This is a common myth. It is seldom true. Even if you bought the house before you married and never put your spouse’s name on the deed, it does not matter. If you used shared marital funds to make mortgage payments—or just lived in the home together—the court will usually consider it marital property. It will become part of your asset divisions. Give up the idea that the house belongs to you alone.
Myth #2: Each spouse gets 50% of the assets in equitable distribution
No, this is false. Equitable is a little different than equal; it merely means that the court divides your property in a way fair to both of you. Maybe you are the husband and made all the money while your wife stayed home with the kids. You get the larger share of your marital assets, right? Probably not, because the wife took care of the children when she could have been working at paid employment. The court may award her more of the marital assets than you imagined.
Myth #3: A smart person will hide funds to keep more of the marital assets
You or your spouse may feel entitled to more assets than you believe will come your way. You decide there is no harm in grabbing what is yours. So you skim money off credit cards and savings accounts and get your finance manager to “arrange” the books at the business you own to show it is unprofitable. Meanwhile, you transfer a chunk of business assets to add to your stash. The courts take a frosty view of spouses who hide money. A judge may force you through an expensive audit and award far more to your spouse to punish you.
Myth #4: It is OK to trash talk your spouse on social media
If you have children, do not ever speak badly about your spouse. Ever. The wounds you make in your children’s minds will never heal. If friends want to dish, tell them your attorney absolutely forbids discussing the divorce. Take the high road. You will make the transition a lot easier on your kids.
Myth #5: Your wedding rings are part of the marital assets
Your wife gets the engagement ring. Yes, the 3-carat flawless diamond that cost you a year’s salary belongs to your spouse—she keeps it. It was a premarital gift. Her wedding band, however, is part of the marital assets.