Monday, December 17, 2012

If I Were King Part II

If I were king, I would change the law that prohibits a judge from granting time-limited maintenance. Under the current scheme, a trial judge may not order maintenance for a term certain; rather, all awards are subject to a review and/or modification.

Philosophically, I am a judicial discretionist. I generally believe that it is best to give judges flexibility in crafting fair solutions. And each case is unique. Many times it would make sense, for example in a short marriage, to grant one or two years of maintenance without keeping the door open for extensions down the road. Or, what about the situation where the husband has been paying for ten years and the judge really doesn’t want to end it outright but wants to give the ex-wife a lump sum payout instead? Theoretically, under the current scheme, the trial judge may not do this and must keep the maintenance open-ended.

For the most part we are blessed with smart and fair judges.  Don’t tie their hands. Give them the power to do the right thing, and they usually will. And when they don’t, that’s why we have appellate courts.

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