In recent months we’ve heard a lot about living in a “post-fact” America. False news, internet rumor and urban legends have run through our conversations and tainted our understanding of real events. This is also true with Virginia divorces. These six “facts” about divorce in Virginia are often confused with the truth; they are anything but.
1. Children Strengthen a Marriage
This is total BS. Your marriage has to exist as a strong union without children, just as you should not be looking for someone to “complete” you. You, or your ex-wife, need to be complete people to avoid the codependency trap. Similarly, the two of you should not be having kids as a way to trap each other into a loveless union. Kids do not solve your underlying problem; they make it worse.
2. She Can Deny Visitation if Support is Unpaid
The two—visitation and child support—are, legally, unrelated, so this is high on the BS meter. If your ex-wife has full physical custody and you get visitation, you get visitation. Period. If you fall behind in your support payments, expect a visit (or other contact) from Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).
Child support payments are outlined under the Code of Virginia, Title 20, Chapter 4.1, and are legally separated from visitation. This means neither your ex-wife nor you can use your own children as bait to punish or reward the other parent. This is also true of spousal support.
3. Your Wife Can Refuse to Give You a Divorce
Total, absolute, archaic BS here. Your wife may fight you, and you may wish she would cooperate if you seek a divorce, but she cannot prevent you from getting one. In Virginia you can have a fault divorce (adultery, abandonment, abuse, incarceration, etc.) or a separation divorce (living completely, utterly, entirely [meaning no shared bed and no sex] apart for either six months or a year). While this is explained in the Code of Virginia, an easier explanation can be found with the Virginia Bar Association.
In Virginia, separation and divorce is not easy, but it does not require the other person to be cooperative. Be careful, of course, because if you move out, you can be perceived as providing fault for abandonment. Consult your lawyer.
4. The Kids Pick the Parent
Yikes. We at The Firm for Men hear this BS about letting Junior choose his home all the time. Perhaps because of this era of permissive parenting, when many adults strive to be their own kids’ best friends, this idea has sprung up that somehow a 7-year-old has the intellect, emotional stability, and world experience to choose which parent to live with after a divorce.
This myth is contrary to the Code of Virginia and judicial precedent. The judge may take into account the wishes of older children, but will place greater value in the financial and emotional resources of the parents, proximity to schools, and recommendations of medical and mental health professionals.
5. Moms Always Get Custody
This bit of BS is historic, we’ll give it that. Yet the U.S. Census Bureau showed that, for 2013 (the most recent year statistics were available), 17.5 percent of custodial parents were Dads. Nationally, that was over two million fathers, 31.4 percent of whom received child support from the mothers.
Yes, this means most (82.5 percent) children live with their mothers after divorce, but not all. Custodial mothers are more likely than custodial fathers to live in poverty (31.5 percent versus 17.4 percent), which is part of the reason most custodial fathers do not get child support while most custodial mothers do.
6. My Friend Claims His Divorce was “Friendly”
Are you a weak or flawed husband because the divorce you are slogging through is emotionally painful, while your friend claims his divorce was a breeze? Your friend is slinging BS and your boots are not high enough.
No divorce is painless or friendly, so cut yourself some slack and allow your emotions to run their course. You have every right to feel however you are feeling: betrayed, hurt, lonely, angry, confused, irritated, lost, scared, hurt, or disappointed.
Divorce coach Cathy Meyer says, “Divorce, at its best cannot be considered an amicable process. No matter how hard we try there will be bad feelings.”
Even if you and your ex-wife agree on every single detail—which you will not—you will still feel the ups and downs of the months-long process. Putting on a brave face for the duration is not the same as experiencing a “friendly” divorce.
Don’t Go In Blind. Call The Law Firm For Men!
We know where most people get their legal advice. The internet myth-making machine is no substitute for law school and courtroom experience. Call The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184 today to speak with a men’s divorce attorney who will give you the straight facts. We’re the only men’s family law firm in Virginia that has never represented a woman!