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By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT
A plausible rumor seems a lot more believable than the truth itself.
The problem with rumors is that they are too often treated as fact. This often is the case in marriage and divorce. For instance the common belief that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce is only true to the extent annual divorces outnumber marriages two to one. That is different than saying half the marriages will end in divorce. Recent studies show a growth in the divorce rate, but still 60% to 70% of marriages will not end in divorce.
Connected to that rumor is the belief that once divorced a second marriage is more likely to succeed. Actually, second marriages are more fragile than first ones – and third marriages even more so.
One of the most worrisome rumors is that children of divorce will be traumatized and scarred for life. The truth is a bit mixed. While most measurements show negative adjustments for children of divorce, the differences in most cases are negligible. What does have a significant and negative impact on children in divorce is the level of continuing hostility between their parents.
A divorce agreement is binding. So it would make sense to think that if the other parent isn’t paying child support, they don’t get to see the children (or the reverse, if you don’t get to see your children, you don’t need to pay support). Both of these rumors are false and could lead to serious sanctions by court.
You can’t get a divorce unless your spouse agrees. Clearly this is false in California. It only takes one spouse to initiate a divorce – and it does not depend on finding fault with either partner.
If you move out of the family home it will be given to the other spouse. You do not lose your community property rights by moving out. One spouse often moves out to give effect to a separation in contemplation of divorce. You aren’t penalized by the law for doing so.
This is only a small sampling of misconceptions about marriage and divorce. Friends’ advice may be well intentioned, but facts are what count.