fairly legal
CC photo courtesy of Hollywood_PR via Flickr

Many a time, I’ve heard a mediation client say that they aren’t going to settle their case in mediation because of principle. They “know they’re right” and they want to go before the judge to receive the justice due them. They believe that because the other party [insert bad behavior here], the judge will certainly see what a jerk the other party is, and rule in their favor.

I hate to say this, but one of the best quotes I’ve heard about the legal system came from a television show:

“In court, somebody wins, but there’s always a loser, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with who’s right and who’s wrong.“– Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi), in the pilot of USA’s Fairly Legal

A portion of that phrase, “it doesn’t necessarily have to do with who’s right and who’s wrong,” stuck in my mind because I’ve heard so many people say they’ve been wronged and they want to make the other party pay. But legally, divorce isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s the ending of a partnership that requires an equitable division of assets/liabilities and time with the children. It boils down to numbers on a spreadsheet and time on a schedule. Yes, it’s painful, and yes, you may have been wronged. But unless your spouse has done something illegal, chances are he/she is not going to be punished for being a jerk.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to approach your case the way a judge would. Try to place your emotions aside and make a smart business decision. Research your rights according to the law, and make your decisions based upon those. If the two of you can agree without getting attorneys and a judge involved, your case will be over months, if not years sooner, with thousands of dollars saved and your dignity intact.