When it comes to legal matters, experienced Sydney family lawyers find that the general public falls for many myths and misconceptions. This is understandable given the complexity of the legal field – however, it is an attorney’s duty to clear up these misconceptions. This article will debunk 5 of the biggest myths that Sydney family lawyers see clients regularly being duped by.
The mother always gets custody of the kids
There is a common belief that mothers receive preferential treatment in custody cases and are automatically granted custody of the kids. Whilst there is a grain of truth to this, as children under the age of 5 are believed to have a stronger bond with the mother and thus they usually get primary custody (but not always), it is not true in all cases.
The court considers the best interest of the child to be the main priority. They will consider a range of factors, such as:
- Each parent’s financial and physical resources
- Each parent’s medical history
- Each parent’s work situation and habits (e.g. smoking)
- The desires of each parent
- The degree of adjustment required if the child needs to move to a new school or city
- The child’s current quality of life.
This gives both parents an equal opportunity to gain custody of their child.
The child gets a say in custody decisions
Sydney family lawyers often get clients with the false impression that their young child’s parental preference will influence the court’s decision. However, young children’s (generally under the age of 12) preferences don’t typically influence the court very much – they consider other factors to be more important. They will consider their opinion if they’re older than 12, however.
The court grants shared custody of pets
Sydney family lawyers often find that people getting a divorce think that they will get shared custody of their pet. Unfortunately, the court considers pets to be property, which means that pets will be allocated to one party as a component of the property division process. Instead, many people decide to come to a non-legal agreement as to how often each party will spend time with their pet.
Women benefit most from a divorce
The idea that women get the most out of a divorce and that the legal system “unfairly” favours women is one of the most common myths Sydney family lawyers see being perpetuated. The court considers each case individually; spousal maintenance is given only after carefully assessing each party’s financial and employment factors.
The “guilty” party in the divorce gets penalised
Sydney family lawyers also see many clients confident that if a marriage ended as a result of an affair or wrongdoing on one party’s account, the “guilty” person will be penalised and the “innocent” given privileges (generally in the form of an advantageous property settlement). However, Australia’s no-fault jurisdiction means that judgements based on morality will not be made.
You can’t claim property if it’s not in your name
The notion that if a property is only in the name of one party then the other party can make no claim over it (in the event of a divorce) is untrue. The court typically regards the property to be an asset of both parties.
Property division is equal
Sydney family lawyers find that many people believe that property will be split equally, however this is a myth. Like most cases, property division is determined by the careful analysis of various factors, such as the contributions of both parties, the relationship’s length and each party’s future needs. It may not be an equal split.