Fair Settlement

divorceseparationca | May 3, 2023

statue of lady justice

When asked what they are looking for in settlement negotiations, clients will often say they want a “fair” settlement. But what does it mean for a settlement to be fair?
The Dictionary is not particularly helpful in defining fairness. Dictionary.com defines the adjective fair as “free from bias, dishonesty or injustice”. The Collins English Dictionary defines “fair” as “reasonable, right and just”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “fair” as “impartial and just, without favoritism or discrimination.”

There are 3 ideas as what it means for something to be fair:

  1. Sameness. Everyone gets the same amount. E.g. Everyone gets the same income.
  2. Deservedness. You get what you deserve. E.g. The harder you work, the more you get.
  3. Need. Everyone gets what they need. E.g. If you need more income, perhaps because of high expenses that you cannot control, you get more.

Because the concept of fairness is subjective, what feels fair to you, might not feel fair to your spouse. And different lawyers and judges may disagree about what is “fair” in your circumstances.
One of the advantages of using the collaborative law process, is that you and your spouse can determine for yourselves what a fair agreement looks like for you. By taking the time to determine what is most important to you and setting your goals, you can work towards a settlement that feels fair to you – even if it looks different from an outcome that might come from the Courts. Your lawyer’s job is to ensure that you are aware of what you may be entitled to under the relevant legislation and will provide their opinion of what a Court would decide, but ultimately it is up to you to work out an agreement that feels fair to you.

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