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Predicting the Unpredictable in Divorce

Divorce, just like many aspects of our lives, may be highly unpredictable. Who will get primary physical custody of the children? How much child support will the non-custodial parent pay? Will the court grant alimony? How much? And so on. These may be some of the questions that a party to a divorce might have.

It is probably very difficult to predict the exact outcome of a divorce case. In fact, very few family law attorneys will tell you, "Hey, I guarantee you 100% this and that will happen." For example, even with the same fact pattern and attorneys involved, a judge in Cobb County may decide a case substantially different from a judge in Gwinnett County. And any given judge can have a bad day resulting in an unexpected decision.

Nonetheless, there are ways to maximize the predictability of a divorce case. First, talk with someone who has knowledge of divorce proceedings in the county where the divorce case is pending. An ideal person to talk about your case is a local attorney who has been practicing family law in the county where the case is pending and who knows about the judge's prior decisions fairly well.

Second, take advantage of the various legal procedures available to gather information relevant to your case. For example, using discovery procedures can help you assess your case. Through these discovery procedures, you can obtain copies of relevant documents from the opposing party and request that the opposing party answer relevant questions in writing. Likewise, mediation can also help you assess the opposing party's position (even if it doesn't result in settlement).

Third, try to remain objective. Both parties to a divorce proceeding can get very emotional and engage in irrational thinking. Trying to have an objective view of your case is a critical factor in bringing about a successful outcome.

Because of the unpredictable nature of many divorce proceedings, pro se litigants face many difficulties-and may be walking on thin ice. Because going through divorce is akin to planning a new life - a new beginning - it would be wise to do everything you can to take control of the situation. Don't fall through that thin ice.

Daesik Shin

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