I firmly believe that the parties involved in a conflict are best able to determine a fair outcome. This includes couples dealing with divorce, siblings dividing a bag of candy, neighbors arguing about noise, etc. The basis of the “fairness” decision is the interests of the parties. This is directly opposite the idea of our court system, which assumes that the conflict will best be resolved by a judge or other decision maker who is neutral and has no vested interest in the outcome of the dispute. How could a third person, working with limited information based on what he or she believes is relevant to the dispute, possibly make a better decision for both parties than they could make for themselves? I’m going to let you in on a secret – judges are no better able to decide what is fair in a given situation than anybody else. That’s not a derogatory comment. Judges are not elected because of their super-developed sense of fairness. They’re elected because voters believe they have the ability to apply the law to make decisions.

Fair means “in accordance with the rules or standards.” So who do you want to determine the rules or standards? The state legislature, that knows nothing about you, your family, your life or your sense of right and wrong? That’s who writes the divorce code. The state courts, that know only as much about your situation as the limited time and rules of civil procedure will allow? How about having you and your spouse determine the rules and standards?

A fair result may not be what both sides would ideally like to happen. Ideally, both parties in a divorce may want to keep all of the assets, all of the income, spend 24 hours of every day with their children and solely make all of the decisions about their children’s well-being for the rest of their lives. That’s not going to happen. A fair result is something that all parties involved can agree conforms to their rules or standards. It doesn’t matter if you use the same rules and standards, as long as everybody involved agrees that the resolution is acceptable in terms of their own rules or standards.

That being said, why would you use the “one size fits all” rules or standards of the Pennsylvania divorce code to determine a fair outcome for your divorce? Neither you nor your spouse may think those rules actually reflect your own personal opinions of the way “fairness” should be measured. Don’t let the fact that those rules are written in thick green books persuade you that they’re a better standard than what you and your spouse believe.

You and your spouse can decide what’s fair and with the help of your attorneys, resolve your conflicts without having someone else impose a result on you.