I often run into a client or potential client who seems unreasonably confident about the outcome of his or her divorce case. The reason usually is that they have heard and believed some common myths about how the divorce litigation system works. At the risk of damaging some happy feelings, I find it's necessary to expose some of the worst myths. Better to be disappointed now than to continue to count on something that will never happen! 1. The Court will figure out/discover the “truth”. Unspoken is the assumption that the truth found by the Court will be the same one believed in by the party. In reality, Courts often find facts to be different from what one or both of the parties believe, or a Court may decide it hasn't been convinced by sufficient evidence one way or the other. Truth is usually in the eye of the beholder, and Courts very often disagree with the parties about what the truth is. What is obvious to a party may be completely invisible to a Judge, so don't count on a Judge automatically agreeing with your view of the truth.
2. Justice will prevail. Just like with truth, there is no universal, indisputable “justice”. Don't assume that a Judge's decision will coincide with your view of justice.
3. The Court will divide everything 50-50. There's nothing in the law that requires a 50-50 split of property or debts. The Family Code calls for a division that is “just and right”, a standard equally as vague and undefined as “justice”. The Judge actually has a lot of discretion about how things are to be divided. There is no concrete, black-and-white answer.
4. The easiest solution is to just go to court. HA! There's a lot of preparation for both sides and you can expect to wait many months for your day in court. Settlement, while sometimes emotionally difficult, is much better than preparing and going to court.
5. I know what will happen because of what happened in my sister's (or best friend's or neighbor's or hair dresser's, etc.) case. No two cases are alike. The facts are different and the cases are probably in different courts, with different parties, different attorneys and different issues. Don't assume that what worked for someone else will work for you.
So, what can you do if you can't rely on these handy my? Talk with an attorney and get some qualified advice. Follow your attorney's advice. Do yourself a favor.