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How do you measure fair?

If marriage is seen as the melding of two lives into one, then a divorce is all about division. The dividing of those two lives yet again and leaving them two, independent lives. And depending on the situation, this can be easy or difficult. During this division, whether it involves the children, the family home or their investment accounts, it is expected that the ending result is fair.

Fairness is why we go to family court. To obtain a fair result. Nevertheless, how do we define a fair property division? In some cases, giving 50 percent to each could be fair. But because the marital property often consists of many assets and income streams, determining how to divide them fairly means that an equitable result means something other than a 50/50 split.

The other difficulty with the determination is that we have to imagine the future and attempt to understand the difference if we choose one asset over another 10 or 20 years in the future.

One company, created by an economics professor, may provide some help. The program allows all of a couples financial variables to be run through an algorithm and it will produce four different outcomes that use different assumptions.

This allows a spouse to see what happens with different asset mixes and to show what is equitable when one party has a higher income.

For those involved in the divorce, it does not tell them what is fair and equitable, but it provides dispassionate evidence that may help diffuse what may otherwise be sensitive subject.

The Wall Street Journal, "A New Way to Reach an Equitable Divorce Settlement," Karen Damato, February 5, 2015

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