While sitting in a Collaborative Divorce session with the attorneys, their clients and a Divorce Coach, the subject turned to alimony and child support. Acting as a Financial Neutral, I asked both parties to bring their post-divorce monthly budgets, so all of us could gain a greater understanding of what life would look like as the couple moved forward independently. The Divorce Coach reminded the parties of one of the biggest differences between Collaborative Law and Mediation, and traditional litigation: they control the process, and they make the decisions.
The court does not care about the parties as unique individuals because it cannot. It is not possible for each case to truly be considered as unique. The court must rely on systems, calculations, and guidelines, and must fit every case into a predictable format. There isn’t the time, and the caseload is too great, to give appropriate consideration to each case. It’s just the way it is. It’s government trying to manage relationships.
When considering alimony and child support orders, even if the house must be sold, the kids uprooted, and the wages attached to conform to a guideline or a calculation, the order of the court will prevail. For this reason, and many others, it is wise to try to work through solutions on your terms, in Mediation or in a Collaborative process, before you throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Because it is most likely not mercy you will receive, but a formula.