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Common Misconceptions About Family Law 

Law Offices Michael S. Rosofsky Feb. 28, 2024

Misconceptions surrounding issues such as divorce, child custody and support, alimony, and more can distort your understanding and expectations of the legal process. They can cause undue anxiety, and at worst, they can lead to poor decision-making that could significantly impact your life. We're here to set the record straight and provide accurate, reliable information. 

At the Law Offices of Michael S. Rosofsky, located in Annapolis, Maryland, we've noticed there's a lot of misinformation out there about family law. We believe it's crucial to correct these misconceptions to prevent them from leading to unnecessary stress and complications. Below are ten commonly misunderstood aspects of family law. 

1: Family Law Only Involves Divorce Cases

Family law isn't just about divorce. It's a broad field encompassing a wide range of legal issues related to families. These include adoption, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and more. Even if you're not going through a divorce, you may still need the services of a family law attorney. 

2: Mothers Always Get Custody of Children

While it's true that mothers were historically given preference, today's courts aim for what's in the best interest of the child. This could mean joint custody, sole custody to either parent, or even custody granted to someone other than a parent. It's determined on a case-by-case basis, not a foregone conclusion.  

Things that may affect custody include each parent's living situation, work schedule, relationship with the child, and any history of abuse or neglect. Gender is not a factor. 

3: Prenuptial Agreements Are Only for the Wealthy

Prenuptial agreements aren't just for the rich and famous. They're practical tools that can protect both parties in a marriage, no matter their financial status. They can clarify financial rights and responsibilities during marriage and determine how property will be divided in the event of divorce or death. If the individuals involved in the divorce don't have many assets or much money, then a prenuptial agreement can be quite simple. 

4: You Can't Get a Divorce Without a Reason

In Maryland, you don't need to prove your spouse was at fault to get a divorce. The state allows for "no-fault" divorces, which means you can end your marriage without having to provide a specific reason other than irreconcilable differences.  

However, if the person filing for divorce prefers to file with a reason, they can file for reasons like adultery, desertion, cruelty, or even irreconcilable differences. However, these reasons do not have a significant impact on the outcome of the divorce. 

5: Child Support is Only for Covering Basic Needs

Child support is not limited to covering just the basics like food and clothing. It can also cover other expenses such as educational costs, medical care, extra-curricular activities, and more. The goal is to ensure the child's overall well-being and development.  

Child support is calculated based on a set of guidelines that consider various factors such as the income of both parents, the number of children, and the cost of healthcare and daycare. In Maryland, the court utilizes Child Support Guidelines, which is essentially a formula that helps determine the appropriate amount of support.

Parents are expected to contribute to their child's upbringing proportional to their income, ensuring that the child maintains a standard of living similar to what they would have had if the parents lived together. 

6: Family Law Cases Always End Up in Court

Contrary to popular belief, not all family law cases end up in court. Many disputes can be resolved through mediation or negotiation outside of court, which can save time, money, and emotional stress. However, if a resolution cannot be reached, the case may then proceed to court. 

7: The Parent Who Pays Child Support Has Less Parenting Time

The assumption that paying child support is associated with less time with the child is not accurate. Child support and parenting time (visitation) are separate issues. The court determines child support based on the parent's income and the needs of the child, whereas parenting time is based on what is in the child's best interest. 

8: Once a Divorce Decree is Issued, It Can’t Be Changed

Some individuals think that once a divorce decree is finalized, it's set in stone. However, certain elements of a divorce decree, such as child support, custody, and alimony, can be modified under specific circumstances. Changes in income, living situations, or the needs of the child can lead a court to revisit and alter the original orders. 

9: If You Move Out of the Family Home, You Forfeit Property Rights

A common misconception is that leaving the family home during a separation means you give up your rights to the property. In reality, moving out does not affect your ownership rights or your entitlement to a share of the property during divorce proceedings. The division of property is based on many factors, but the physical occupation of the home at the time of separation is not typically one of them. 

10: You Don't Need Legal Representation

Many believe that they can navigate the complexities of family law cases on their own. While self-representation is legally allowed, it can lead to unfavorable outcomes due to a lack of understanding of the intricate legal system. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance and help ensure your rights are protected. 

At the Law Offices of Michael S. Rosofsky, we're committed to guiding our clients through the intricacies of family law with accurate information and compassionate representation. Reach out to us if you have any questions or need legal assistance.