Most of us want to be perceived as being fair. In your divorce, you are likely just wanting what's fair. Who can argue with being fair? That's what makes "fairness" such a strange thing. In divorce, and in conflict in general, it is common to see one's own ideas as "fair" and the other's as "unfair."
In a quest to learn about fairness, many visit divorce lawyers asking about what might be "fair" or to what they are entitled. (Often, the two are assumed to be the same.) You'll likely get an answer. But, if you consult a different divorce lawyer, you're as likely as not to get a different opinion. The other lawyer could well say that something very different is what's fair. Your spouse's lawyer is likely to say that something different again is fair. And none of them can guarantee that a particular judge will agree. So, who is right?
If you ask your friends and family for their own view (not just to agree with your view), each of them will likely have a different belief about what is fair in your divorce. With all of these vastly different opinions, whom are you to believe? After all, you are just seeking what is fair, right?
Trying to ascertain what is objectively "fair" is a bit like chasing the end of a rainbow--you can never get there. "Fairness" is a completely subjective determination. No person has the one answer to what is fair; most of us believe that we are fair.
Think about what might shape your own view of fairness. In divorce, there are some common elements to consider that might bear on your own sense of fairness. Is your sense fairness shaped by your emotions about events or circumstances (for example blame, anger, guilt, shame, sadness, depression, optimism, etc.)? Is it shaped by the influences of others (for example, if a family member or friend says someone “deserves” x)? Is it shaped by your family of origin (for example, what was deemed fair between siblings when you grew up)? Is it shaped by your beliefs about the experiences of others (for example, if your heard that John Doe got a particular financial result in his divorce)? Is is shaped by your social or economic status, or the culture where you are from? Is it shaped about what you think about the undesirability of divorce? If you're being honest with yourself, the answer is likely "yes"to several of these factors.
When you think about it, with all of these factors influencing what people consider to be “fair,” it is hardly surprising that there is such a wide range of answers when trying to ascertain fairness. I might place a high value on classical music, while you might place a high value on hip-hop. While I may not consider it to be "fair" to be forced to listen to hip-hop, a hip-hop fan may consider it to be fantastic.
When asking other people what's "fair," you're just getting their personal preferences and not a universal truth. What is deemed "fair" to any person is truly unique to that individual—including you, your spouse, and every lawyer, judge, and other human being. If so, then perhaps asking what might be “fair” for your divorce may not be the most useful inquiry—you'll be getting an answer that reflects that person's subjective values instead of something about you that gets you closer to a divorce agreement. And, their view could well be out of alignment with what you want out of life.
With such a vast range of views, the question of what may or may not seem to be “fair” is probably not a very productive inquiry.A more useful inquiry might be to explore for yourself what will be important for you to get from your divorce as you look towards the next chapter in your life. Only you can know your own goals, and only you can set your own objectives that are consistent with those goals. While others (such as divorce lawyers, consultants, etc.) can certainly provide you with very useful information and help you reality-check choices, only you can set your objectives in life.
Another more useful inquiry might be what would be an acceptable outcome both to you and to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If your goal is to reach a divorce settlement, then what may be mutually acceptable is a key question; however, that question must be coupled with the question about how you and your spouse can make the best use of available resources so you can set sail into the future, and your individual senses of integrity.