Aristotle. Socrates. Plato. Twenty-five hundred plus years is no small amount of history as the foundation for today’s discussion. The three men profiled arguably founded, not only Greek Classical Thought, but also paved the way for thinking in cultures and peoples stretching beyond Europe, Africa and Asia to also Australia, North and South Americas; from as early as 500 BC to the current twenty-first century AD. That forms of thinking- “knowing of what?”- have segregated into various schools of logic remain today is a testament to the brilliance of these three individuals.
The scientific study of interpretation, relegated to its sovereign- truth, is called hermeneutics. Logic is the path to truth, with its vehicle being hermeneutics. The hermeneutic called Ockham’s Razor is the subject for today’s dissection!
Ockham’s Razor has been employed in many contexts with subsequent definitions appropriately affixed. Our working definition will remain as it applies to the law, most especially your case and mine! Our working definition is: "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." Now let’s set our parameters.
In law, we often refer to the story as the dominative narrative, which contains as its underpinning the paradigm. This is simply understood in the following example:
Sally and Tom get a divorce. Sally and Tom have three children. Sally and Tom decide upon day care arrangements at XYZ Daycare for their children. XYZ Daycare charges $100/ week per child. Sally and Tom split the costs, despite Sally having greater use, as a result of her being the custodial parent and her having greater parenting time with said children.
Subsequently, after five years, both Sally and Tom become re-married, with each having an additional child. Ironically, both newborns are born only months apart. Additionally, as a result of much court battling, Tom is able to achieve a virtual 50/50 split in the parenting time of the jointly shared children. Both families continue to function, utilizing XYZ Daycare, as both new moms prepare to re-enter the work force. Soon thereafter, Sally’s new husband takes a job promotion and this necessitates Sally and her new hubby to move. The move creates a great distance, too prohibitive for Sally to continue to use XYZ Daycare. As such, she decides, with a newborn now a variable in her considerations, to hire a household employee at $500/ week flat rate to care for both joint children and her newborn. After moving, she informs Tom that she no longer will use the monies, she collects from Tom, to pay XYZ Daycare. Rather, she will utilize said monies to pay the new household employee at her home and that Tom will necessarily need to contribute more to Sally for the additional costs, now $500/ week. This now leaves Tom paying in full any costs that he has at XYZ Daycare when he has the joint children. Sally does not even consider that Tom, himself, has a newborn to plan into his equation.
Sally’s dominative narrative echoes her needs as custodial parent. Her paradigm is that of a victim- custodial mother with children at the mercy of a presumptive deadbeat dad who does not want to care for his children’s expenses.
Tom, who is financially broke, without council for assistance, turns to his local parental rights group for advice and proceeds to Court in Pro Se, armed with Ockham’s Razor, to defeat this injustice. Tom waits for his turn to speak, before the judge, and states the following:
“Sally has proffered a false paradigm of herself as a victim, in order to leverage this Court into granting an unfair award for day care expenses. The true paradigm is rather that Sally has herself chosen not in the best interest of our children and she is unwilling to provide her fair share for our children’s care while victimizing both their father and our children. Here are the facts judge!
The New Narrative:
“Sally moved without my knowledge until after the move was completed, so that her new husband could increase his income. Sally’s move re-located our children many miles away from their actively involved father who virtually has a 50/50 parenting time split with their mother. Sally then chose, not a day care equal to what has always been an acceptable day care for our children, but rather, she chose an improved style of care- nanny, with nanny’s subsequent cost increase, which serves not necessarily the best interest of our children, but rather serves Sally and her new hubby’s best interest. Even more so, Sally has wrongly included the cost for her newborn into the equation, while eliminating my costs still accruing for our children when they are with me; she has not considered the inherent increase of my travelling costs due to her moving; and, she has not added the known costs for day care associated with my newborn, if we are to compare both sides equally.
“Sally’s paradigm is false because according to Ockham’s Razor, ‘the answer that explains all of the facts in the simplest terms is the truth!’ Sally has censored many of the facts. Along with, she has insisted the facts she wants the Court to consider should be interpreted through her supplied paradigm as a victim of me, and as a mother with custody. The truth is found in all the facts explained by the simplest statement. Sally has chosen not in the best interest of our children and she has chosen to increase costs for the care of our children in order to extract greater amounts of money from me.
“This is shown by: She has chosen to distance our children from their father and she has increased, unnecessarily, the cost of our children’s day care through moving by creating the need for two day care arrangements and through hiring a nanny, a more expensive form of day care. On top of that, Sally has found that the additional costs associated with her newborn, that I am not the father of, should be shared by me, while the costs associated with my new born should not be equally shared by her. This, while she completely ignores the remaining costs associated with our children’s day care when they are with me and the increased cost of travelling expenses incurred by me due to Sally’s moving for her husband’s job promotion.
The New Paradigm:
Therefore your Honor, the new paradigm, according to Ockham’s Razor is that Sally operates according to her own self-interest which is towards the increase of her financial status at both the financial and emotional expenses of our children and of their father. I ask that the Court input day care costs at the fixed rate of XYZ Daycare. That Sally and I share these costs now almost twice as much as they used to be. That, neither her newborn, nor my newborn, should be considered in the computation of costs. That Sally re-imburse me half of the costs associated with my additional travels for her moving. And, Orally, I Motion this Court to find a change in circumstances under the MI Custody Act (MCL 722.21 Et, seq.) and Order a hearing in order to determine the Best Interest of our Children!
- William of Ockman