Every divorce client wonders and asks me, "is this a fair deal", "am I paying too much" which is always followed by "am I getting enough". Of course the right answer is that it depends because every case is different. The people are different, their incomes are not the same, the number and ages of their children are not identical, their age, health, future careers and the many other parts of life are different from one family to the next.
To try to give the right answer there are certain basic things that must be done. Marital property must be identified, valued and distributed. Separate property should remain separate. Income and reasonable living expenses need to be stated. Future needs of the children and both parents should be considered. Projections as to future income and the ability to be self-supporting are important, but are subject to change in the future. How secure is a person's job, when will they retire, how will they support themselves after
child support and maintenance ends? Will there be money from the sale of a house now or in the future and will pension benefits be shared?
Will the custody and parenting schedule be practical? Will the children be attending college? Will the children participate in expensive extra-curricular activities?
A former matrimonial judge used to tell the parties at their first court appearance that if they are like most people as soon as they settle their case they will immediately doubt whether they received enough or are paying too much.
So my advice to clients is to make the best settlement that you can and measure it by what your needs are and whether they are met and do not try to measure it by what the other person keeps. Will the settlement allow you to do the things that you need to do to support yourself and your family? Measure the value of finality and that the case will be finished and not require more trips to court and more legal fees.
If you are in doubt about your settlement call my office to arrange for a consultation to review the proposal and find out if the deal is fair.