Often times during the discussions leading to a divorce it is not uncommon that one of the parties becomes frustrated by the action of the other and states something like, “I know what a judge would do, so you better agree to my position regarding our parenting plan,” or, “I know what I am entitled to.” A word of caution. Going to court and listening to your attorney make your case is no guarantee that you are going to be able to accurately predict the decisions of the Court.
It is true that many states now have passed legislation that provides calculations for child support and spousal support but these same states also allow for discretion on the part of the presiding judge. Judges, like the rest of us, are human and are not infallible. In addition, the statutes allow judges to use discretion in making decisions regarding the granting of child support and alimony (spousal maintenance). Just because a friend with similar circumstances received what you believe to have been a favorable award from a judge doesn’t mean that you will receive the same reward.
As noted above judges are people. They encounter many of the same daily experiences the rest of us do. And, they tend to make judgments based on their experiences and training. What one judge may view as “fair” another may view as “excessive.” In addition, just like you and me, judges have bad days, get tired, and life events may cloud their judgment.
So how can you avoid these variables? Mediate your divorce. Mediation affords you the option to get a settlement you and your spouse both think will work. The mediation process empowers you to control the outcome based on your needs and the needs of your children. In fact, in some states mediation is mandatory prior to litigation.
If you and your spouse are seeking an efficient, less stressful and cost-effective process, consider mediation.