One of the most common misconceptions that people have when heading into a divorce is that it is going to look just like the divorce process someone else went through and told them about.
For instance, maybe they had a friend who got divorced and got $2,000 a month in spousal maintenance — sometimes called alimony or spousal support in other states — and they expect to get the same. They have looked at their finances and it looks close enough to them.
Coming into a divorce with this mindset is problematic. There are just too many factors to consider. Even if the case looks similar from the outside, it may not be that similar at all. For instance, the court considers:
- The length of the marriage
- How much both partners earn
- The potential for future earnings
- The ability to meet basic needs
- The way that other assets get divided
No case is exactly the same. Maybe their friend was married for 20 years, while they were only married for 10. Maybe they have a far greater earning potential because they have a better education and have not been out of the workforce for nearly as long. Maybe they’re getting more assets in the divorce, taking some financial strain off of them. Maybe their friend’s spouse actually makes twice what their spouse makes, but they haven’t really looked closely enough into the financial details.
Assuming that the case will be the same is dangerous because it may mean that they’re not happy with the end result — even when it does fit the case. It’s important to know where you really stand and what legal steps you can take.