I'm not a fortune teller. I can't predict the future. But I can often predict family law outcomes, because the legal principles are so simple.
That's not true with every area of the law. Some practice areas are terribly complex. But not family law. It's the facts that get complicated - decades long decontructions of relationships - not the law.
"No Fear" Family Law aims to take away the fear of the unknown, and empower clients with knowledge of likley outcomes that usually aren't as bad as they fear. Here are three of my top likely outcome tips.
1. Shared custody - Custody will probably be shared if that is what the parents want, with no child support being payable. There are exceptions, but you may have a major fight on your hands to convince a court to give you an exception because of the fundamental principle that the best interests of the child involve maximizing contact with both parents.
Even where child support is payable, it will be according to a fixed table amount created by the legislature. Plug in numbers of children and parental income, and it spits out a number. Simple. What are known as "special and extraordinary expenses" - dentist, soccer, summer camp - are split as a percentage between the parents according to their respective incomes, even where no child support is being paid.
2. Equal split of property - Matrimonial property will be split evenly, except for property that was brought into the marriage. Again, there are some exceptions, but for long term relationships, splitting things down the middle is the norm since usually most of what couples have was acquired jointly, or at least shared jointly. Owning a business could introduce some complexity to this split, especially where both spouses have involvement in the business.
3. Spousal support depends on income disparity and length of relationship - Spousal support will only be payable where there is significant income disparity, and then only for about 3 years, unless it is a long term relationship in which case lifetime support may be payable, subject to a change of circumstances where the recipient spouse is later earning enough for self-support.
Unlike child support, there’s unfortunately no simple math formula for spousal support. Often about 20 to 25% of the payor’s pretax income is ordered in spousal support, but those payments will be tax deductible in the payor’s hands, and taxable in the recipient’s hands (child support is the opposite: taxed in the payor’s hands and not taxable in the recipient’s hands).
The major challenge in determining a fair level of spousal support is that income must be fairly established, as the claimant may focus on that one year with a very high income in the past, and the payor's income may have fallen dramatically because of the family breakup.
Although you might be hoping for different outcomes than my top 3 predicted family law outcomes, you'll have to fight very, very hard, have very compelling facts, and have considerable legal resources to achieve dramatically different results. But definitely details on how these results are implemented are very important to negotiate or have a court decide upon, and can vary greatly from case to case.