The end of a marriage often causes feelings of sadness, anxiety and fear. Uncertainty may compound these emotions, especially when people become influenced by common misconceptions about divorce.
These are the facts behind three of the most frequently mentioned myths about divorce in Pennsylvania.
Myth: Child support affects visitation
Many parents who have primary custody assume they can withhold visitation rights if the other parent fails to pay child support. Conversely, the parent who owes child support may think he or she no longer has custody or visitation rights. In fact, Pennsylvania courts make separate determinations about custody and child support. You can still see your children if you miss a child support payment. If you have custody, you must abide by the visitation order even if you do not receive ordered child support.
Myth: Adultery will impact property division
Pennsylvania courts may not consider incidents of marital misconduct such as adultery when dividing shared property. However, adultery does affect spousal support in the state. You cannot receive alimony if your spouse proves that you had an extramarital relationship.
Myth: Both spouses must agree to divorce
Although you and your spouse must agree to pursue a no-fault or uncontested divorce, it becomes contested if either of you fails to sign the paperwork for a no-fault divorce. In this case, you must live separately for at least a year before filing for divorce in Pennsylvania. Your spouse has 40 days to answer your divorce petition. If he or she does not respond, the court will grant a divorce. Otherwise, you must go through the hearing process.
Understanding the facts behind these misconceptions can inform your next steps if you are thinking about divorce.