April 8, 2020

True or False? 5 Myths About Divorce

Richmond Tymchuk Family Law

Have you ever heard a rumor about divorce? A stat that seemed too good to be true, or a piece of common knowledge that you took as accurate? It turns out some of our assumptions around divorce simply aren’t true. And on the other hand, sometimes public knowledge actually is based on facts. In this article, we’re going to clarify five popular myths about divorce. 

Myth #1: More divorces happen at…

One of the most popular myths about divorce is that they are more likely to occur at specific times of the year. For example, have you ever heard that more divorces happen in January? The logic of that argument might make you think it’s true. The holidays can be stressful, a couple waits for the New Year, etc. In our experience, that hasn’t been true. 

A more local myth along the same lines is that more divorces happen just following the Calgary Stampede. All that revelry and boozy nights at tent parties must surely lead to an increase in divorce filings! Not true. These myths play on our reasoning that some seasons of life are more stressful or act as milestones for large events like a divorce. In reality, the stresses leading to a divorce can tip the scales at any time. 

Myth #2: Divorces are much more common today than in the past

This common myth about divorce is another that plays on our expectations. It’s easy to think a behavior is more prevalent now than in the past. So, are divorces actually more commonplace? The answer is both yes and no. 

According to official Canadian statistics, back in the 1950s, the divorce rate in Canada hovered around 40 per 100,000 residents. The data goes until 2008 and shows that the current divorce rate is about 220 per 100,000 residents. That’s a big jump in divorces. However, consider that in the 1980s the divorce rate regularly crossed 300 per 100,000, peaking at 363 per 100,000 in 1987. One more interesting stat is that millennials are divorcing at a much lower rate than previous generations, at least in the United States. Most research points to the increase in marriage age and choice of many people to just not get married as contributing to the lower divorce rate among millennials. We’ve noticed that the divorce trends in Calgary fall in line with these American trends. 

Myth #3: Women are more likely to get custody of children

Have you heard this rumor? Well, it turns out this myth is actually true – at least partially. It used to be that courts almost always gave custody to the mother with the assumption that it was what was best for the child. 

That trend has certainly been challenged in recent years, and fathers definitely have a fair shot at custody if they desire it. Additionally, courts attempt to come up with a solution that gives both parents maximum contact with their children in a manner that is consistent with their best interests. Statistically speaking, though, it’s more common for the mother to have custody. Around 80% of the time, the mother is granted custody in Canada. If you’re going through a divorce and have questions about custody, contact us. 

Myth #4: Divorce costs a lot of money

Once again, this myth falls in a grey area of both yes and no. A divorce certainly can get expensive. Time in court, legal battles that stretch on and on – it all adds up. Still, a divorce doesn’t have to be expensive. It depends on if both sides can come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. 

One way to accomplish that is with mediation and arbitration. This keeps the divorce out of court while still allowing a third party to help you deliberate and make decisions. Often, the third party only interjects on issues that need assistance for determination. Otherwise, the parties can reach agreements directly with the assistance of legal counsel.   

Myth #5: You don’t need a lawyer to get a divorce 

This myth goes hand and hand with myth #4 about money. Do you actually need a lawyer to get a divorce? No, you don’t. If you’re having an uncontested divorce or agree upon a settlement yourself, a lawyer doesn’t need to get involved in the negotiation process. In Alberta however, if you are settling your division of property matters by way of an agreement, the Family Property Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. F-4.8, requires that each party have independent legal advice evidenced by a certificate signed by the independent lawyers in order for the agreement to bind the parties. 

A divorce lawyer does become necessary when the divorce is contested and property, custody, or child support is not agreed upon. That’s where mediation and arbitration can be especially helpful. And furthermore, a family law lawyer is recommended if a divorce goes to litigation in court. 

Have you heard other divorce myths? Let us know, and we’ll try and answer them!

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