There is nothing more frustrating than collective wisdom. I guess that’s a posh phrase for it, but I am referring to an idea that someone clings to as an absolute because lots of people believe it - or someone has told an individual that it is true and they pass it on to others. The reality is that it is often not worth the paper it’s not written on.
After all, rumours survive and Chinese whispers are bound by these same rules – but they have no basis in law.
Take for example, commonlaw wife. The collective wisdom, and widely believed rumour , is that once a couple have been together for a certain amount of time (ranging from six weeks to two years depending on the teller), they are considered commonlaw man and wife and so enjoy at least some of the advantages a married couple enjoy, like claims on each others assets. This is neither rumour, whisper or wisdom. It is a myth, pure and simple. It is not true.
“If he leaves me, I get half of everything.” Myth. It could work out that way but the reality is that each case is different.
“We can get a quickie divorce.” Myth – even if you are celebrity.
“I’m not committing adultery because I formed the relationship after we separated.” Myth. If you are not divorced, it is adultery.
As a responsible family law firm, we are doing our best to blow these myths away. We have produced a free book with a 101 myths about divorce, stating the myths and the reality. We have a related website, covering the same issues and inviting people to suggest others.
Now we also have a short video, which featured some of the Woolley & Co lawyers discussing common misconceptions. You can view it here.
Better informed customers will make our jobs easier and help manage expectations. We need to work together to get the messages out there.