No, I'm not quoting Charlie Sheen. Family, friends and those not involved in the family law field regularly ask me, what's your win/lose ratio? Do you win more than you lose? The long answer is, family law is so not black and white to be able to tell who wins and loses. It is many, many (more than fifty!) shades of grey.
In divorce, there are a finite number of assets to be divided: the house, pension and retirement funds, stocks, cars, boats and the like. These things are not necessarily divided individually; rather, they may all be combined into one big "marital pot" and percentages then agreed upon. You may decide you want X percentage of the whole pot and that would leave your spouse with X percentage. No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever gets everything they wanted. It just doesn't happen. Compromise is a way of life and divorce is no exception. An attorney can be most valuable to a client when he or she can tell the client, this is what I've seen the courts do when dividing assets in a similar situation. Reality testing is what it's all about. I will tell you what is, not what you want to hear.
In custody, it's all about the best interests of the child. Parents fight terribly over custody of their children. You may think that you are the parent who should have primary custody. You may be right. Sometimes it takes a long and expensive court fight to figure everything out. Sometimes it takes a custody evaluation with a psychiatrist costing between $5k-$10k to figure everything out. But the great majority of the time, barring any extreme conditions such as a parent being in jail, if a parent wants to have more time with a child they will get it, so long as that additional time does not negatively affect the child. It may only be a few hours or it could be a few days. The parent who wanted more time is likely not going to get everything they wanted and will have to compromise to a great degree, as will the other parent. Did they win? Not totally. Did they lose? Maybe a little bit. Which is it? Who's to say?? The bottom line is, what is in the best interest of the child. Many, many a court battle and many thousands of pages have been written on that topic and there is still no definitive answer.
The short answer is, I win when my client is happy. That is something I strive for daily in everything that I do.